As part of a campaign to make Northamptonshire County Council think again about increasing parking charges - this newspaper has invited readers to have their say.
People are being asked to have their say on the Northamptonshire County Council proposals for changes to on-street parking in Northampton town centre.
But businesses have widely criticised that further parking charge increases are going to be another nail in Northampton’s coffin.
If it is given the green light pay and display bays in Abington Street, George Row, Mercers Row and St Giles’ Street will see an 80p rise from £1.20 per hour to £2.
"Why won’t the council listen, " said reader Mr Kingston. "We need free parking. The free spaces in Abington Street used to be continually full but not now. If people are going to have to pay to park they are not going to choose Northampton."
On-street parking charges were rolled out in Northampton in July 2001 with an 80p fee per hour.
In 2008 costs went up to £1 an hour before shoppers had to pay £1.20 per hour in 2018.
Since last June, fees are proposed to go up by 100 per cent at £2 an hour.
Reader Mr Love added: "It appears that with the latest proposal from NCC to increase on street parking charges, our councillors have no experience of business, sales fundamentals or real commerce. If these individuals were in industry, reliant on customers, they would starve.
"Unfortunately that fate is what will happen to the remaining businesses in the town if we do not get a grip on how to sell the town to shoppers by way of attracting people to visit and stay long enough to spend their money.
"Someone stated these charges are on par with Milton Keynes, they are not! Milton Keynes offers expensive red area parking for quick stops but if you are on a shopping trip the purple zones are unlimited 50p per hour, and offer good value.
"Vision and practical solutions are needed, not just increased prices. If NCC wake up and smell the coffee they might see the town in its true potential from where we can highlight the history, the fine buildings that are left and realise that the oldest profession (I refer to selling) is what they have to do and you do not sell any product by hiking prices alone. Alongside selling the town, we need it safe, clean and pleasant.
"Remove the dirt, empty the bins often enough so they are not overflowing, remove undesirables and stop cycling in the pedestrian areas. These are features and benefits and that is what sells products, even towns."
Between April and June 2019 town centre cameras recorded footfall had fallen in Northampton by 729,449 in comparison with 2018 figures.
Despite a recent impetus to boost trade in the centre and the opening of the new Waterside university campus nearby, the figures have prompted fears that Northampton is still struggling against the out-of-town giants nearby.
Mr Cross added: "Do our councillors ever walk the street and actually see the mess our town is in?
"Litter, unoccupied buildings, fly tipping, drinking alcohol in the street, and other anti social behaviour with very little evidence of the police.
"Charging more for car parking will not provide the funds to deal with these and many more negatives. Charging more will kill off many small businesses, sending and spiralling Northampton into a ghost town."
The Chronicle & Echo are inviting readers to have their say on the consultation plans by emailing the newspaper editor firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO GET IN TOUCH WITH NORTHAMPTONSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL :
Should you wish to comment on the proposals through the formal process you must put your views in writing no later than the 5th September 2019 to the address below quoting reference PKG/P1803:
Parking & Traffic Orders, Northamptonshire Highways, Highways Depot, Old Harborough Road, Brixworth, NN6 9BX