Bid to slash Kettering’s parking charges rejected

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A proposal to reduced charges for parking in Kettering Council-owned car parks has been turned down.

Labour proposed to slash prices by 20 per cent at Wednesday’s council meeting but it was rejected by the ruling Conservative group.

The charges - £6 for all-day - were recently frozen until 2021.

Labour leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw said: “We wanted to reduce charges by 20 per cent across the board and we were willing to have discussions with the administration about how that should take place.

“My main concern is not car parking per se, but the future of the town centre.

“I think the council could be doing an awful lot more to encourage businesses in the town centre and car parking is a big part of that.”

The authority made more than £300,000 from car parking revenue in 2016-17, the only authority in the north of the county to make a profit.

Cllr Scrimshaw says the charges are contributing to making shoppers want to go elsewhere.

He said: “If you go back 10 or 15 years Kettering would be the ‘go to’ destination for shopping over Corby.

“Would you say that’s true now? Of course not.

“I know people in Kettering who would rather go to Corby than Kettering.

“Of course in some areas it’s more expensive but that tends to be the cities.

“If you needed to pop into town to buy a lightbulb you’re not going to pay a quid to park to get it.”

When the council decided to freeze charges last year, it said it would equate to a real-terms reduction of about 22 per cent since 2011.

A report discussed by councillors added that car parking income is vital to ensuring cuts are not made elsewhere.

It said: “The history of raising income through local charges means that the council is reliant upon the current level of income it receives from car park charges to ensure that the savings targets do not increase and it also provides funding for offering a good quality parking offer.”

Labour’s 20 per cent reduction proposal would have cost the council about £135,000 in lost income.

Their alternative budget proposed a three per cent - or 8p a week - increase in council tax, which would have covered the lost income with £60,000 to spare.