Free car parking for all North Northants towns WILL be considered 'among options' to aid town centres

An independent councillor, backed by the Labour leader, had asked the council to consider the issue

Saturday, 31st July 2021, 5:50 am
Car parking in Kettering has been free during the pandemic. Image: JPI

North Northamptonshire Council members have agreed to look at options to improve town centres by considering free parking in all areas across the north of the county.

Cllr Martin Griffiths, the former Conservative leader of Wellingborough Council who now sits as an independent after leaving the party, had put forward a motion to Wednesday's full council meeting asking members to make all council-run car parks free, in line with East Northamptonshire and Wellingborough where the policy is already in place.

Kettering has not been charging for parking during the pandemic. It is only in Corby's NNC-run car parks where visitors are currently charged a fee.

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Cllr Griffiths had hoped that introducing no charge for parking could give town centres, struggling with the after-effects of Covid on footfall, a much-needed boost.

His motion, which was seconded by Labour group leader Cllr Jean Addison, read: "This council appreciates and understands the huge negative impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on local businesses and in particular the high street retail and hospitality sectors.

"North Northamptonshire Council should support its local businesses, and our residents and the executive should consider free car parking in all council owned car parks and look at other initiatives to improve and stimulate our town centres.”

In an exercise in semantics, the Conservative group from whom Cllr Griffiths split following the furious row last month, put forward their own, slightly amended, motion. Moved by Cllr Graham Lawman and seconded by Cllr Andy Mercer, the motion stated: "This council appreciates and understands the huge negative impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on local businesses and in particular the high street retail and hospitality sectors.

"North Northamptonshire Council aims to support its local businesses, and our residents and council asks the executive to investigate the options, including free car parking, for car parking in all council owned car parks and to continue looking at other initiatives to improve and stimulate our town centres.”

Cllr Lawman had earlier stated that the cost to the council would not be 'free,' and that there would have to be statutory legal consultation before free parking could be implemented.

The amended motion was passed and the council agreed to investigate free parking.