Free parking could come into effect as soon as next month in Northampton town centre

"We just need anything to regenerate the town centre after covid. All the businesses must be struggling."

Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 10:36 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 1:13 pm

Free parking is on the cards to becoming a reality for Northampton town centre.

Independent councillor Julie Davenport, of the Delapre and Briar Hill ward, has submitted a motion to West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) urging the authority to provide free car parking in the town centre.

The motion will be discussed at the council's next full meeting on September 23 and, if passed, free parking could become a reality in Northampton as soon as next month.

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St John's Car Park is council owned, which could become free if the motion is passed

Cllr Davenport's motion reads: "This council understands the huge negative impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on local businesses and, in particular, the town centre retail and hospitality sectors.

"WNC aims to support its local businesses. Our residents and council ask the executive to investigate the options including free car parking, for car parking in all council owned car parks, and to continue looking at other initiatives to improve and stimulate our town centres.”

Speaking to this newspaper, Cllr Davenport explained her thinking behind the motion.

She said: "Because of Covid all the businesses have shattered and we really need to help them out, we got a lot of government funding to do this.

Independent councillor Julie Davenport submitted the motion

"I just believe there needs to be an injection of some kind of funding to help businesses.

"There was about £28million ring-fenced covid money left before Northampton County Council turned into WNC.

"I am still trying to find out what's happened with that money and what is left of it. I am sure there's still a big chunk and I hope it can be used to help the town's businesses get back on their feet.

"It's like the market trader [Fitzy] was saying about reduced rates, we just need anything to regenerate the town centre after covid. All the businesses must be struggling.

"A resident said they had a £5 parking charge was for St John’s car park. Some people don't have that to spend on parking at the moment."

Cllr Davenport added that she would like to see free parking in the town every day of the week as 'there is enough funding' available.

Eamonn "Fitzy" Fitzpatrick urged the council last week to provide free parking in the town centre, lower rents, and abolish business rates in a bid to increase footfall.

WNC has been contacted for comment.