Parking fees set to rise despite fears

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New higher car park charges for Market Harborough and Lutterworth look likely to go ahead - but not until April 1 next year.

Approval for the new charges was given this week by the Harborough District Council’s Executive group.

As we reported last week, Market Harborough’s Chamber of Commerce urged to council to delay the increase, due to the rise in empty units in the town centre. The proposals have still to go out for consultation.

Next year’s price rises would mean:

- The cost of parking for two hours in a short stay car park going up from the present 70p to £1.

- The cost of four hours in a short stay car park rising from £1.70 to £2.50.

- The cost of parking for more than four hours in a long stay car park going up from £2.20 to £4.

The new fees mean the district council will get around £1million a year in car park charges.

It is also proposed to introduce charges to the Symington Recreation Ground car park in Market Harborough.

At last Monday night’s meeting, Cllr Neil Bannister reminded councillors that the car park charges were last reviewed in 2012. Cllr Phil King pointed out that surplus money from car park charges was “important income” not only used to maintain car parks, but also to improve roads, reduce pollution and provide outdoor recreational facilities across the district. Council leader Cllr Blake Pain summed up: “We’ve kept prices to a minimum to help retail businesses in Lutterworth and Market Harborough. But the council has its needs too, and even with these increases, we’ll still be one of the most competitive market towns.”

But Chamber of Commerce president Alastair Campbell said he hoping that the new prices won’t be as high as those proposed by the council, adding: “We hope it might not be as it’s currently laid out, given the unusual situation of the number of shop vacancies.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Phil Knowles agreed and added: “Anything that will reduce the footfall into the town has to be a cause for concern.”