Liberal Democrat councillors are calling on Northampton Borough Council to object to plans by their county neighbours to increase on street parking charges in the town centre.
Northamptonshire County Council wants to hike up the cost of pay and display bays in Abington Street, George Row, Mercers Row and St Giles Street from £1.20 per hour up to £2.00 per hour.
But it also proposed extending the maximum stay period from two hours to four hours in Albion Place, Fetter Street and Spencer Parade, and in spaces south of Angel Street on Bridge Street and Guildhall Road.
Now the three Liberal Democrat members of the borough council want colleagues from other parties to support their calls opposing the increase from across the road at One Angel Square.
A motion from leader Councillor Sally Beardsworth, to be debated at full council on Monday (September 16), states: “The council agrees that it wishes to express concern and opposition to the proposed increases as it believes that it will have a detrimental effect on the town centre economy at a time when this council is trying to address the downturn in footfall and look for ways of investing in the town centre in support of its long term prosperity.”
However, to some residents the look of the borough council potentially objecting to the proposals may look at odds with its own actions. The borough council recently introduced a price increase of its own in the car parks that it owns in the town centre, including the multi-storeys at St John’s and the Grosvenor.
Asked whether the county council could potentially call the borough council hypocritical if it backed her motion, Councillor Beardsworth told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Something like this could destroy the town centre. I voted against us putting the charges up for our car parks, and I was disgusted with how that was handled. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
“I’ve had a lot of feedback on this issue, from members of the BID, from shopkeepers and people who just go in to use the town centre.”
The motion had originally called for the borough to make a late representation past the September 5 deadline for consultation on the increased charges. However, at the end of last week the county council confirmed it would be extending the consultation deadline to September 27, after accepting that many residents would have missed the opportunity to comment while on their summer holidays.
The county council argues that the changes will lead to better management of the high demand for parking spaces in the most popular locations such as Mercers Row, and that it would ‘encourage the use of parking bays in areas on the town centre which are currently being underutilised’.
It adds it would also reduce congestion and incidents of obstruction from motorists cruising for spaces or waiting on the road for spaces to become available, and that the increased charges only affect a quarter of the 378 town centre parking spaces.
Councillor Beardsworth is expected to call on the borough council to now submit an official response to their county council counterparts.
Asked if she thought it would receive the backing of the Conservative administration at the Guildhall, she replied: “I think if they want to try and save the town centre, they will vote for this motion.”