24 Jan Update on parking charge proposals
West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) will not currently be pursuing plans to introduce parking charges at Northampton’s Racecourse for the time being after listening to the concerns raised by local residents.
And proposals to revise parking charges at Daventry and Brixworth country parks will also be reviewed so that further options and possible solutions can be explored.
The Council will also be engaging with town centre businesses over plans to revise parking charges in Northampton town centre and working with the Business Improvement District (BID) to explore options around the future structure of parking charges.
The proposals to review parking arrangements in Northampton town centre, the Racecourse and at Daventry and Brixworth country parks form part of WNC’s draft budget proposals for 2023/24, as the authority seeks ways to address a significant funding gap whilst continuing to protect and deliver vital services. Public consultation is currently under way on the draft budget and residents are encouraged to give their views before its closes next week (Tuesday, 31 January).
Following their meeting last week (17 January), Cabinet members have since withdrawn their decision to proceed with the proposals until further work is carried out to evidence the issues involved and the Council arrived at the best range of solutions. At the meeting, members listened to concerns from residents that introducing fees at the Racecourse could exacerbate local parking problems.
As part of its draft budget for next year, WNC is also considering proposals to increase parking charges in Northampton town centre by the equivalent of around 10p an hour along with the possibility of removing the two-hour free period on Saturdays and introducing a Sunday charge. With public consultation on the budget already under way, there are also plans to engage with local business representatives to look at future options for these pricing structures.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: “With increasing demand for services and significant inflation, the challenge of addressing a £60million funding gap in our budget next year has meant making some extremely tough and potentially unpopular choices, such as looking at car parking fees, to raise the income we urgently need to avoid cutting other services so we can continue protect our society’s most vulnerable. We really wouldn’t be looking at this if we had alternatives and I totally understand the strength of feeling from local residents and businesses. I also can assure residents and businesses that we’ve made millions of pounds of savings and efficiencies within the council before considering increases in fees and charges, and that program of efficiencies continues.
“Concerns had been raised that the car park was not available to Racecourse users, as others were occupying the spaces, but residents living near the Racecourse expressed real concerns at last week’s Cabinet meeting about the impact of introducing parking charges and we’ve taken them on board.
“Our plans for the country parks would harmonise fees between the two sites for visitors and also ensure we are investing in technology to improve the experience for motorists, but we have also tried to keep costs to minimum whilst ensuring Blue Badge holders can park for free, but we’ll reconsider this once we have clarity over the Racecourse parking.
“We understand the concerns that local businesses are raising about the town centre parking proposals and will be working closely with the BID to explore what options there may be for structuring charges in a way to help alleviate these.
“We know how important it is for a revitalised town centre with thriving local businesses and we are working really hard with all our partners on delivering multi-million-pound regeneration plans to achieve this.
“I would also encourage anyone with strong views on these issues to ensure they have their say through our budget consultation which is running until 31 January; all feedback will be carefully considered as we shape the final proposals next month.”
To find out more about WNC’s draft budget proposals for 23/24 and to have your say, visit https://westnorthants.citizenspace.com/cet/budget-2023-24/