Bid to lower Kettering’s car parking charges dismissed

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A request to lower parking charges for Kettering Council’s town centre car parks has been dismissed.

The charges at all council-owned town centre car parks in Kettering will remain at their current levels after the Conservative-run cabinet threw out a call from the council’s research and development committee to lower the charges once again.

In April new charges were introduced after a decision in November not to reduce the fees, but to introduce new bands for long-stay parking.

The committee had wanted the cabinet to reduce the fees to attract more shoppers into the town.

The town centre has suffered from a series of shop closures and will likely be impacted even further when its flagship Marks & Spencer closes its doors for good on August 11.

Speaking at the meeting at the borough council offices on Wednesday (July 11) Labour councillor Maggie Don urged the cabinet to think carefully before dismissing the lower charges.

She said: “It is the short-term parking we need to look at. We are far dearer than our neighbours and that is stopping people coming into the town centre.”

Deputy leader Cllr Lesley Thurland said altering the long-stay fees had worked and shoppers were staying longer in the town.

She said: “We want to encourage people to stay longer. People are now coming over and making an event of it, and having a coffee with their friends.”

Cabinet member Cllr Lloyd Bunday questioned whether the matter should have been brought to the cabinet to consider.

He said: “We are in a situation where there is an awful lot of work being asked of our officers. Car parking came to the cabinet last November and a decision was made. We have not got the time to keep revisiting our decisions.”

After the meeting, independent councillor Michael Brown said the ruling Conservatives had broken their election manifesto promise to reduce the charges.

He said: “I guess as they get free town centre car parking themselves, paid for by the taxpayer, it’s a case of ‘I’m alright Jack!’”.

A report considered by the cabinet said that to reduce charges further would have an impact on the overall car park income and estimated that a 10 per cent reduction in car parking fees would cause a £61,000 income loss.

Parking on Sundays and bank holidays at Kettering Council car parks is free.