Anger as Northampton parking charges look set to rise without second public consultation

Parking charges are set to increase at Mayorhold from April 8.
Parking charges are set to increase at Mayorhold from April 8.

The main council opposition group has spoken of its outrage as proposals to increase parking tariffs in Northampton look set to come into force without another public consultation.

A raft of changes are due to be made to charges at Northampton Borough Council car parks after cabinet members approved a plan to increase its revenue by some £625,000.

Evening charges, for leaving a vehicle from 5pm to midnight, are set to rise from £1 to £3 across all borough council-owned car parks.

At surface car parks such as Upper Mounts, the 60p for an hour tariff and £1.20 for two hours will be replaced with a new minimum charge of £2.

Anyone staying at surface car parks for between three and four hours will have to pay £4 - as opposed to £2.40 for three hours or £3.20 for four hours.

Only 21 people took part in the original consultation proposing the rises.

But when the decision was ratified at the February 20 cabinet meeting attendees were left with the impression a second public consultation would be held.

The minutes of the meeting recorded cabinet member for regeneration Councillor Tim Hadland as saying "a decision regarding parking charges would only be made after consultation."

But as it stands, the charges are set to increase on April 8 without the public being further involved. Only Northampton's Business Improvement District will get a say on the matter.

Labour opposition councillor Gareth Eales (Spencer) has now demanded the controlling Conservative group delay the parking tariff rises.

He said: “I think this absolutely stinks.

"Businesses and citizens were given some small chink of hope that common sense would prevail, with the promise of consultation.

"That though, was simply a ruse for the borough council to attempt to sneak these charges in and deal with any backlash later.

"I call on this Conservative council to pull back and do what they promised and properly consult with the people and businesses of this town."

Terry Steers, who owns St Giles Ale House, said he was "fuming" at not being involved in further consultation.

He said: "The council says this is going to encourage people to stay longer in the town - but it's just going to encourage people to go to Rushden Lakes.

"If they had done another consultation on this they know full well what the answer would have been."

Councillor Hadland said that, even with the changes, visitors can still park for free in multi-storey car parks for two hours during the week and for the whole of Saturday or Sunday for just £2.

He added: "The intended increase was publicised in the Chronicle & Echo, with notices in the car parks and we will also be meeting with members of the Business Improvement District in the next few days. All comments received will be considered by the council before the new fees go live.”

Although not an official consultation - anyone who would like to share their thoughts on the parking charges, can still do so by emailing: communications@northampton.gov.uk