Tories and Labour clash over who has best free parking offer in Northampton

Shoppers can currently park in Mayorhold car park in Northampton for free all day at weekends, but Labour says it would cut that offer to prioritise spending on environmental services.
Shoppers can currently park in Mayorhold car park in Northampton for free all day at weekends, but Labour says it would cut that offer to prioritise spending on environmental services.

A borough council election spat has erupted after the Tories criticised Labour plans to reduce the free parking offer in Northampton town centre.

The Conservative administration introduced free parking to the town’s four multi-storey car parks at weekends and for two hours on weekdays in 2014.

The party claims it has led to a 40 per cent increase in usage and a five per cent town centre footfall rise.

However, Labour’s manifesto pledges to offer free parking for only two hours on the weekend as well – a move the Conservatives say is a reduction on the current offer and ‘risks the economic recovery in the town’.

Outgoing leader of the borough council Councillor David Mackintosh, said: “Since introducing free parking we have seen an increase in footfall which has given a significant boost to traders based in the town centre and to our local economy.

“Labour want to jeopardise that by drastically reducing the hours visitors can park for free, and take away a major incentive for people to visit our town.”

But Labour say the party is taking the sensible approach.

“Our policy is to have two hours free car parking daily in our major car parks and then free car parking all day for the three weeks before Christmas,” group leader Councillor Les Marriott, said.

“Our approach is sensible as it allows the town centre to be competitive in continuing to attract shoppers but would also enable us to spend money in other policy areas, currently neglected by the present Conservative administration, such as the environment.”