Boris Johnson visited Corby to back a campaign to encourage Corby Council to scrap parking charges in the town centre.
The Mayor of London was in the town on Thursday, October 30, to back the drive by Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Thomas Pursglove to adopt free parking in the council-run Cube car park to bring the town in line with those in East Northamptonshire.
He gave a speech to Conservative Party members at the Conservative Club in Cottingham Road on diverse topics including the European Union, vacuum cleaners, the coalition government and Ed Miliband.
The eccentric politician also visited Corby Railway Station to highlight the government’s plan to electrify the Corby line.
Mr Johnson said: “Winning the Corby seat at the election will be crucial. Thomas has got to do it.
“I am backing his campaign for free parking. Thomas is a young candidate with a lot of enthusiasm and good ideas.”
Before leaving the town by train, Mr Johnson spent time taking selfies with commuters at Corby Railway Station and phoned Wellingborough and Rushden MP Peter Bone’s daughter to wish her a happy 30th birthday.
Of his parking campaign, Thomas Pursglove said: “It works in East Northamptonshire where we have free parking and we’ll be campaigning for free parking across the whole constituency.
“Having to pay for parking does not help town centre businesses.”
But residents were less than impressed with the scheme.
More than 80 people responded to news of the visit on the Northants Telegraph’s Facebook page, with many criticising the proposals.
Aimee Murray from Corby said: “Parking charges are very reasonable in Corby compared to other towns.
“Trying to get parked in that car park to take my children to swimming lessons is a nightmare as it is.
“It will be impossible if it’s free.
“I’d imagine all the workers in the town centre would park there from early morning until they finish if it was free leaving few spaces for the likes of me.”
Liz Smith, also from the town, said: “I’m happy to pay 60p to shop in a decent town centre.”
And another Corby resident, Tariq Daniel said: “Its not badly priced but when you park there to use to gym and you already pay £30 a month for the gym and then have to pay for parking on top of this it can be a little bit annoying.”
Constituency MP Andy Sawford was also critical of the plans, saying: “Wouldn’t it be great if we had free parking?
“We can all support that in principle. But why stop there? It would be great to have free buses and free trains too.
“There is though the small matter of how ‘free’ things are actually paid for.
“If you see Boris in town ask him if the Tory ‘free parking’ plan will be funded by council tax rises, rent rises, business rates rises, or increased charges at the swimming pool and theatre.
“Or would they be paid for by cuts to other services and if so, which ones?”
A spokesman for Corby Council, which runs the Cube car park in the town centre, and is due to run the cinema car park being built next door, said: “Corby town centre offers a wide range of amenities for residents and visitors.
“We already have a wide range of shops, an amazing theatre, an international-sized swimming pool and on top of this there is soon to be a brand new six-screen cinema and additional places to eat and drink.
“We think that the current charge of just 60p for up to two hours in the Corby Cube car park, along with free parking on Sundays and just 20p for the whole evening after 6pm, is very reasonable.
“These minimal charges also ensure that the Corby Cube car park stays in line with other private car parks in the town centre and therefore visitors are more likely to use all car parks in the area.”