Councillor who spearheaded free parking in Northampton town centre wants scheme extended into 2022

"This is a start, with the free parking, but it's not going to be left there."

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 4:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 4:24 pm

A Northampton councillor who spearheaded the campaign for free parking in the town centre is calling on the council to extend the Christmas scheme into the New Year.

More than 4,000 spaces in the 20 West Northamptonshire Council-managed car parks in and around the town will be free all day at weekends from November 20 and from 3pm on weekdays until January 1.Councillor Julie Davenport, of the Far Cotton ward, said she was 'very happy' her idea had been implemented by the council to try and regenerate the town centre.

Reacting to the news, councillor Davenport said: "I'm very happy. I just want to get people back into town, and hopefully this will.

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Julie Davenport successfully spearheaded the campaign for free parking in the town

"The regeneration has got to start somewhere. It's just about getting more people into town and making it more economical, which will start to revive it.

"The scheme will be helping local businesses, because they are the ones that have truly suffered.

"I really do think it will help residents, too, because I think there are a lot of people that can't afford the car parking charges. It may not seem a lot to some people but it can make quite a difference to a family that have little money."

However, the councillor still wants to see more action to regenerate the town and will be submitting a motion at the next Full Council meeting in December to extend the free parking scheme into the new year.

Councillor Davenport said: "Yes, I would like to see this extended further into the future.

"I still think, after Christmas, the money could come from the Covid funds - if we don't use it we might lose it. We have got those funds so why not help those businesses that have suffered?"

Councillor Davenport said the council has told her it will cost around £180,000 to implement this free Christmas parking, which will be funded by Covid finance central government previously handed out - the council has been asked to confirm this.

Many Chron readers have said there is little to actually go into town for, with Councillor Davenport responded saying: "We do need to regenerate the town centre because people are saying they just don't want to go there anymore.

"This is a start, with the free parking, but it's not going to be left there. We're meeting on Monday to discuss other ways we can regenerate the town centre, council leader Jonathan Nunn will be there.

"When you look at Pride or Diwali, you know, certain events, we need to be looking at hosting more of them. I do believe we need more to attract people. We need different events, especially coming up to Christmas."

Mark Mullen, Operations Manager for Northampton Town Centre BID, added: "We are in favour of any incentive to support businesses at what is a particularly challenging time for them and we look forward to seeing shoppers make the most of the free parking to shop local and support their favourite retailers in our town centre this Christmas.”

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