Public slam 'obsessed' Tories over plans to increase parking fees at popular parks in West Northants

Parking fees are set to be increased at The Racecourse, Daventry Country Park and Brixworth Country ParkParking fees are set to be increased at The Racecourse, Daventry Country Park and Brixworth Country Park
Parking fees are set to be increased at The Racecourse, Daventry Country Park and Brixworth Country Park
"Once again WNC prove that it is only interested in fleecing residents”

Plans to introduce increased parking charges at three popular parks across West Northants have been heavily criticised by the public.

A motion to increase parking fees at The Racecourse, Brixworth Country Park and Daventry Country Park were passed at a West Northamptonshire Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday night (January 17).

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The proposals could be introduced as soon as April, with automatic number plate recognition to be installed at the three sites in summer, according to WNC.

What are the charges?

The following charges are the highest increases proposed by WNC.

The Racecourse is currently a free to park site. Proposals could see motorists charged £3.30 for a three-hour stay.

It is currently £2.20 to park all day at Daventry Country Park. WNC proposes to increase that by 445 per cent (£12).

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A season ticket at Brixworth Country Park is currently £38. WNC proposes to increase that to £70.

New hourly rates are also being introduced.

Click here for the full list of proposed charges.

Who voted in favour of the motion?

The whole of WNC’s cabinet, who are: Conservative councillor Larratt (Nene Valley ward), Conservative councillor Mike Hallam (Boothville and Parklands ward), Conservative councillor Adam Brown (Bugbrooke ward), Conservative councillor Rebecca Breese (Middleton Cheney ward), Conservative councillor David Smith (Woodford and Weedon ward), Conservative councillor Daniel Lister (Long Buckby), Conservative councillor Fiona Baker (Brackley ward) and Conservative councillor Matt Golby (Duston West and St. Crispin).

Public reaction

Members of the public spoke out against the plans at the cabinet meeting.

Resident Rowan Smith spoke on behalf of his son, who lives in Hunt Street in The Mounts.

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Mr Smith's son uses The Racecourse car park overnight as a 'last resort' because of the lack of on street parking availability outside his house.

Rowan said: "Life on The Mounts isn't the best. One constant frustration is the parking. Nobody chooses the longest walk and parks overnight in The Racecourse unless they have to. It's the last resort."

Mr Smith's son says there is an anxiety of being a victim of crime when walking home from The Racecourse car park.

He added: "Life on The Mounts has some challenges, and just living a normal day to day life requires some personal grit."

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Mr Smith requested that WNC introduce overnight parking permits for those living on The Mounts to help with parking. Councillor Phil Larratt said this will be reviewed in the first six months of the scheme.

Mark Higgs was another member of the public who spoke out against the fees.

He said: "People need to pay parking? No they don't. It's what has driven everyone out of town. You are systematically destroying the town centre.

"What is this council's obsession to monetise car parks?

"If you want people to have good mental health, let people go there without anxiety that ANPR might fine them when they leave.

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"Whose best interest is this in? Is it in the locals' best interests? Or is it the council's best interest?

"It makes zero sense. It's absolutely about money."

Click here to see councillor Phil Larratt and Jonathan Nunn’s responses to the criticism.

Chron readers have also blasted the proposals, with concerns including the current cost of living crisis, the benefits of green spaces on mental health, and the 'exorbitant' fee increases.

Linda Herring said: "It was found during lockdown that our green spaces were important for our mental health, yet in times when people are finding the cost of living way too high, they will soon be priced out of parking for a few hours at a West Northamptonshire park."

Tony Clarke blasted: "Once again they [WNC] prove that it is only interested in fleecing residents. Of course it will make even more through issuing tickets for those who overstay or are forced to park elsewhere due to the spiralling cost. When will we be rid of this rotten council."

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Jo Pennell commented: "More and more council services are coming with an additional charge. Council tax going up, service quality coming down, AND stealth taxes by way of paying for parking/bin collection etc."

John Dickie added: "This is part of the price we in Northampton pay for a council that is largely run by rural councillors who, as always, regard Northampton as the main source of funding. WNC is an artificial construct and from day one has been unfit for purpose."

Paula Marriott simply said: "They may be popular parks now but I bet they wont be with that price hike."

Lee Ward said: "It’s just unbelievable. Football players at The Racecourse on a Sunday face a double whammy of paying subs and car parking fees."

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Clive-Alan Holden said: "Ridiculous increases. We have had enough of propping up the coffers to the detriment of our shops whilst no charge elsewhere."

Councillors' reaction

Opposition councillors have also blasted the proposals.

Labour councillor Danielle Stone (Castle ward) said: "Charging for parking on The Racecourse is a badly thought through idea that will hurt local people.

"The Racecourse is used by hundreds of people every day, from a ten minute stroll, to a two hour football match, to a whole day event. It's our backyard. We need it. In a very built up area it's our lungs.

"Recent studies show that open green spaces are really important for all of us. Especially for children and young people. Many families live in flats. They need access to The Racecourse. Putting in charges will be another cost to already overstretched household budgets.

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"The Labour group is joining with Northampton Town Council to stop this crazy idea going ahead. We already pay for the Racecourse in our council tax."

Labour councillor Emma Roberts (Delapre and Rushmere ward) said it is an 'awful decision' and that

"Awful decision. A report without evidence base.

"I thought the cabinet member was dismissive of concerns raised and I thought they missed an opportunity to push pause and review again the actual impact and rationale."

Liberal Democrat councillor Jonathan Harris (Brixworth) and Labour councillor Wendy Randall (Daventry) have been contacted for comment.