Leighton Buzzard resists ‘poorly timed’ parking fee hike proposal
A local authority’s plan to raise Â£ 300,000 through increased parking fees and charges in parts of central Bedfordshire, including Leighton Buzzard, is ill-chosen, a meeting said.
Local residents and visitors are expected to pay more to use Central Bedfordshire Council car parks, subject to a consultation process that ends on 14 November.
CBC is seeking Â£ 300,000 of parking in its medium-term financial plan. Its Sustainable Communities Review and Review Committee has been invited to comment on proposals that would see a 50 pence increase to most time slots in most of its parking lots.
âAs our downtown retailers continue to face serious challenges, this seems somewhat inappropriate in its schedule,â Leighton-Linslade City Councilor and Deputy Mayor Tony Morris warned.
âI ask you to consider a system where the first hour of parking could be free. Correctly applied, it would be appreciated by all concerned.
âThere is half the number of short-term parking spaces in Leighton Buzzard compared to towns of similar size.
âAnd we have twice as many disabled spaces as elsewhere. With the recent pedestrianization of the High Street, we have lost 35 short-term parking spaces.
High Street retailer Phil Curtis questioned whether the distribution of the proposed price increases was fair, saying: âWe have to compete with Grovebury Road and MK1 where there is free parking.
Michael Weedon, Federation of Small Businesses, told the committee: âNaturally, members are appalled by the proposals.
âThey are already heavily in debt themselves and their costs are increasing,â he explained. âThere is no advantage for them in terms of the sustainability of their city centers. It’s all risk.
âNationally, attendance has declined for 15 consecutive years. Attendance is 15% lower despite the fact that the population is 5% larger. “
Leighton Buzzard South Conservative adviser Ray Berry described it as “ridiculous that you pay 50p more” to stay for half a day or half an hour.
Linslade’s Liberal Democrat adviser Peter Snelling said: âOverall I’m not happy with this. One of the answers to Leighton Buzzard is for city council to take over parking lots. But multistage is more of a problem.
âSomeone put the figure at Â£ 300,000. This is called efficiency, whether it is a reduction in service or a tax on people using city center parking lots to support the High Street.
âWe should set up a task and finish group to look at parking fees and strategy across the area. Any increase in parking should be carried over to the second year of the medium-term financial plan.
Linslade’s independent advisor, Victoria Harvey, reiterated her support for “half an hour of free parking to get people into the city,” saying: “There’s no point in increasing parking fees and having a half-empty parking lot “.
She pointed out the irony that CBC potentially spends thousands of pounds at the junction of Grovebury Road shopping park where parking is free.
Arlesey Conservative adviser Ian Dalgarno said: âWe recognize the concerns. Leighton Buzzard High Street has a temporary emergency traffic control order.
âWe are looking at this. It’s going to be data driven. We are asking consultants to review this, with a decision expected in January.
âWe don’t have to consult on these parking fees, but we are. I think it’s important that we do this, âadded Councilor Dalgarno, who is the executive member of community services.
“We really want to get good results and as many options as possible.”
He was reluctant to support setting up a working group and finishing it towards the end of the consultation process, but promised that comments will come back to the review committee.