Cut-price car parking pilot to boost footfall

Kettering, Horsemarket, nearly finished. Bus stops  'Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Kettering, Horsemarket, nearly finished. Bus stops 'Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Parking charges will be cut by more than a quarter and a new £50,000 big screen installed in a bid to draw in shoppers into a town.

Two-hour parking in Kettering’s London Road car park will be cut from £2.20 to £1.50 in a 12-month pilot scheme due to start this summer.

And Kettering Council has agreed to buy a screen that could be as big as eight square metres to show sports matches in the town centre.

Russell Roberts, leader of Kettering Council, said: “We are straining every sinew to improve the town centre.”

The council’s executive committee agreed to replace the £1.10 one-hour charge and £2.20 two-hour charge at the 238-space car park with a £1.50 two-hour charge after a heated debate on Tuesday.

All members agreed to introduce a year-long trial at the car park, which is one of the council’s largest but least used.

But matching the Newlands Centre car park with the reduced charges Monday to Friday, as opposed to Saturdays only, was narrowly passed with a vote of four to three.

Parking on Sundays is free.

The trial, which aims to draw shoppers to the south side of the town centre, is expected to start by August.

Council officers said no revenue would be lost if the same number of drivers parked for one or two hours. If the car park draws motorists who would have parked in other council car parks for two hours at full rates, income will drop.

The committee also agreed to spend £190,000 for contractor MGWSP to design improvements to the town’s pedestrianised centre.

Philip Mitchell, owner of the Mews Cafe in Market Street, who collected a 1,700-name petition calling for parking charges to be cut, said: “I’m grateful the council are beginning to look at it but I would just appreciate it being a little bit more.

“I think they’re missing a trick.”