Charges for using council-owned car parks in Kettering will be reviewed again just six months after they were frozen.
In November the authority decided they would not lower charges until at least 2021, instead adding new bands, saying that the freeze since 2011 equated to a real-terms reduction.
They remain among the highest in the area and on Tuesday (June 12) the council’s research and development committee was asked to note the council’s charging strategy.
But a minor rebellion saw four Conservatives abstain and two councillors vote for the council’s executive committee to review the charges again instead.
Independent councillor Michael Brown (Brambleside), who has lobbied for the charges to be lowered for some time, said: “All of the political parties at the last borough elections promised a costed car parking charges cut in order to help with the challenges Kettering Council face regarding the town centre.
“The executive committee effectively u-turned on this decision with their new car parking strategy and the evidence to support that view came to scrutiny in the form of an officer report stating that the new policy equated to a freeze.
“If the policy remains in place it would mean that people pay the same to park in Kettering as they did at the last elections, so therefore not a cut as promised.
“The council’s research and development committee found this position unacceptable due to the promises made in the manifestos by all councillors when they were seeking election and have now forced the executive to think again about whether they want to uphold their promises, or not.”
All-day parking in one of Kettering Council’s car parks costs £6.
Parking in Wellingborough and Rushden’s town centres, and Rushden Lakes, is currently free.
A report discussed by councillors noted that any reduction in charges would hit the authority’s income.
Reducing the charges by 10 per cent would result in about £61,000 less in the council’s coffers.
Council officers said this shortfall would need to be financed through ongoing reductions in expenditure or an increase in ongoing income, adding it would not be prudent for the reduction in income to be met through one-off sources such as the use of cash reserves.
But Labour councillor Mick Scrimshaw (William Knibb) argued that, while car parking charges were not the only answer, the recent M&S closure announcement should force the council to reconsider its policy.
He said: “Car parking charges in Kettering have long been a concern of both local businesses and residents.
“The fact Kettering Council announced last year that the results of their long-awaited review on this issue meant there were virtually no changes to the prices they charged was a disappointment to both residents and the business community.
“I am pleased that scrutiny has agreed that the council’s leadership once more look at this issue and I urge them to consider how reducing short term parking charges could benefit the use of the town centre.”
Kettering Council was the only authority to make any profit from car parking in 2016-17, making £326,000.
Corby Council broke even, East Northants Council lost £48,000 and Wellingborough Council lost £330,000.
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