New weekend £2 charge in Northampton's multi-storey car park catches shoppers short

Shoppers say they were caught without change on weekends since the fee was introduced.
Shoppers say they were caught without change on weekends since the fee was introduced.

New all-day parking charges in Northampton's multi-storey car parks on the weekends have been met with complaints by shoppers.

Northampton Borough Council has introduced a £2 charge to park all day in its multi-storey car parks such as Mayorhold and Grosvenor on Saturdays and Sundays.

The charge took effect on April 13. But after its first two weekends, visitors to the town have complained of being caught off guard by the new ticket price and say it will only drive people away from the town centre.

One resident, Jamie Brown, wrote on the Chronicle's Facebook page: "The result will be less people coming into town, spending less money, forcing businesses to close and the council doesn’t get its rates. Short-sighted and idiotic."

On weekdays, the all-day parking fee in the borough council's car parks is £8, with up to two hours free parking.

The council announced the scheme as part of their budget in December and said it would generate an additional £800,000 annual income to help meet maintenance costs on the car parks, which in recent years have run at a loss.

They also plan for it to dissuade drivers from leaving their cars in free parking over the entire weekend.

Another resident, Carly Preen, wrote: "Free weekend parking was helpful in bringing people into the town. I think it is a mistake to introduce these charges. The town is already struggling.

"But [the charge] was hardly sprung on people, and if your day was 'thrown off' by a £2 car parking fee then you need to get a grip."

"Lots of missing the point here," said resident Jo Wilkins. "In order to increase the footfall of the town centre it needs to remain competitive with its convenient out of town counterparts.

"In order to remain competitive and maintain the current-and-already-depleting levels of shoppers initiatives must be implemented by the council. Not taken away."

Councillor Brandon Eldred, cabinet member for finance, said: “Parking charges are always an emotive issue and I have no doubt that these changes will be unpopular with shoppers and traders alike.

“I can assure everyone that we considered all other options before settling on parking charge increases as part of the way we might balance our budget for the coming years.

“These are relatively small increases which we believe will have minimal impact but will help us protect other vital services we provide.”