Column: ‘We will ask the council to consider two hours’ free parking in town’ says Labour councillor Charmaine Morgan

Charmaine Morgan - Labour
Charmaine Morgan - Labour
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On Monday, March 3, South Kesteven District Council will be voting on the next annual budget.

At Lincolnshire County Council full council last week it was highlighted that, whilst some parts of the UK are seeing some signs of economic recovery, our county is one of those lagging behind. We must take whatever reasonable action we can to support our local economy. Our town centres are not only retail centres for our town but they are also at the heart of our communities. They face increased competition and customers with squeezed household budgets.

When local retailers called for free parking in Grantham their request was dismissed by SKDC cabinet members as being “too expensive” Yet, a review of the parking fees and revenue by Labour Group members showed a more flexible and imaginative approach to the problem could deliver a solution.

The Labour Group will be putting forward an amendment at full council which will call for the introduction of a pilot parking scheme for a year. We are seeking to introduce free parking for the first two hours in all short stay car parks in Grantham and Stamford each Saturday. Bourne and Market Deeping already have free parking.

We will monitor the impact this has on footfall and spend during this time. We had a few options. We could slightly increase the weekly charges to offset the estimated £65k cost (based on lost revenue and amount needed to re-programme the ticket machines), in which case there would be no budget implications. However our preferred option for the pilot scheme is to use some of the funds SKDC has set aside for priority initiatives which have not been allocated yet. There is £860k in that reserve.

SKDC states it has a priority to deliver economic growth. SKDC also wants more people to visit our district. We agree with these priorities. We also believe this proposal, which would benefit the whole community, support our town centre and boost visitors to our Saturday market, is an opportunity not to be missed.