Kettering's parking income slashed after town centre footfall drops
A decline in the number of shoppers has hit Kettering Council's car park surplus to the tune of more than £100,000.
Latest figures by the RAC Foundation revealed the Conservative-run authority made a parking surplus of £149,000 in 2018 to 2019, down from £258,000 the year before. As recently as 2013 to 2014 that figure was as high as £354,000.
Charges to park in Kettering Council car parks are amongst the highest in the area and the council's opposition leader, Cllr Mick Scrimshaw (Lab), said they need to be looked at again.
He said: "It's clear to me that fewer people are using the car parks...are they being put off by the relatively high charges?
"The Labour Party has proposed two hours of free parking to boost town centre usage but it has been rejected by the Conservative administration.
"These figures should be the catalyst to look into how it can be improved."
A Kettering Council spokesman admitted declining footfall figures had impacted their car park income.
They said: "This has largely been caused by a reduction in footfall in the town centre, particularly since Marks and Spencer closed.
"The town centre task and finish group recommended to the executive committee a whole range of proposals to counter the trend in town centre footfall decline.
"There were two recommendations out of 32 which dealt with parking charges and on both of those, officers were asking to cost up the proposals and report back."
Elsewhere in the north of the county the amount councils made or lost on car parking remained at a similar level.
Corby Council made a surplus of £4,000 with East Northamptonshire Council, whose car parks are free, making a loss of £54,000.
Wellingborough Council, whose car parks are also free to use, made a loss of £307,000. Only a handful of councils in the UK made a bigger loss on car parking, according to the figures.
The authority to make the biggest surplus on car parking was Westminster City Council, with a whopping £69,191,000 surplus.