Protesters set to take to streets of Northampton today over on-street car parking rise

Soem 200 traders and residents are set to take to the streets of Northampton to protest at the planned rise in on-street parking prices.

Friday, 27th September 2019, 11:57 am
The Chron's front page from August 22 showed the strength of feeling against the rises by town traders.

Northamptonshire County Council wants to increase the tariff for the pay and display machines in St Giles Street, Mercers Row and Abington Street from £1.20 an hour to £2.

But traders told the Chron last month that the move would "kill" the town centre.

Some 200 business owners and town centre shoppers are due to march on the council's offices in Angel Street today to protest the rise.

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The march, being organised by the No on Northampton group, is set to meet at the Guildhall at noon before walking over to One Angel Square in Angel Street.

It is understood the council's cabinet member for highways, Councillor Jason Smithers, will be there to receive a petition from the protestors - which now has over 2,000 names on it.

The consultation period for the planned price rise had been extended to today, from September 5.

Mark Mullen, operations manager for Northampton town centre Business Improvement District (BID), is joining town centre businesses on today’s protest march.

Mark said: “The BID understands the concerns of businesses and shares these. We need to do all we can to entice people into the town centre, but businesses feel increased parking charges will deter shoppers and make business even more challenging.

“The BID has met with the council and a range of partners and we were delighted the county council agreed to grant an extension to its consultation period. This has given businesses more time to have their say and in the meantime our discussions with the council continue.”

Heads of the county and borough councils met to negotiate the proposals at a crunch Guildhall meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Councillor Smithers said afterwards: “Please be assured that we are listening.

"The Northampton town centre parking proposals aim to better manage the high demand for parking spaces in the most popular town centre parking locations and encourage the use of parking bays, which are currently underused.

“No decision has yet been made. We have extended the consultation period until Friday (September 27) to make sure we receive as widespread feedback as possible and then we will assess all the information we have received before we reach a final decision.

“This isn’t just a paper exercise – we have met with our partners including Northampton Borough Council, Northampton MPs and the Northampton BID to discuss the issue at length.

“The county council along with our partners will continue to work hard to support the viability and vitality of Northampton’s town centre."

MP for Northampton South Andrew Lewer had issued the county council a stinging critique of the car parking increases on Monday.

In response to the council's consultation, the politician wrote that "no research or measurements have been completed or presented to evidence the, claimed, increasing levels of congestion."

"The fact that income from this source is falling short of the target is evidence, not just that congestion hasn't significantly worsened within the last 12 months, but it has probably fallen.

"If there are fewer cars in paid-for spaces it is logically assumed that there are probably fewer cars on the road."

Mr Lewer went on to point towards the fact that footfall in Northampton town centre fell by 729,0000 in the second quarter of the year.

"Since my election in 2017, I made the revival of the town centre one of my top priorities and have been regularly lobbying for funds, policies and powers needed," he added."This proposal runs contrary to all our efforts thus far."