The leader of the district council says Grantham MP Nick Boles’ ideas for free car parking are ‘at odds’ with its attempts to get people to stay in Grantham longer.
Mr Boles suggested in the Journal last week that motorists should be given two hours of free car parking and has called on people to sign the petition on his website. His ideas have been supported by Grantham Business Club and the Grantham Retailers Association.
But Linda Neal, leader of South Kesteven District Council, said: “The surprise idea from our local MP to introduce free two hour car parking in Grantham and Stamford is totally at odds with our policy which is designed to encourage people to linger longer.”
Coun Neal added: “Free two hour car parking could very well lead to people popping into town to go to the bank and perhaps pick up something from a supermarket, but do little else. That is why our emphasis has been on making longer stays low cost. Our current price structure allows those who need to pick something up to do so by buying a 30-minute ticket for just 50 pence.
“But what we are more interested in is encouraging people to stay shopping for much longer and that is why our three hour charge is only £1.80 or you can get an all day ticket for only £3.
Most of our neighbouring towns also charge on Sundays and in the evening (we don’t) and at nearby Newark the lowest charge is £1 for an hour and more than four hours will cost £4.60.
“In Lincoln the charge for the first hour is £1.50 and all day costs £7.50. The comparisons demonstrate that we are not over-charging and those who prefer free two hour parking must understand that such a move would mean that we would lose income but still need to clean and maintain the car parks and the CCTV would still have to be paid for, so a sum of about £370,000 would have to be found from somewhere else.
“We could charge more for our other services – for green bins, for leisure, or for events at our arts centres for example – but that would mean that many people who do not use the car parks would be subsidising those who do.
“As you can see, there are no easy solutions, and one thing that is certain is that internet shopping is not going to go away and this will continue to affect high street traders.
“One possibility might be to introduce a double ticket system which operates successfully in some towns. This works when the parking ticket machine dispenses two tickets – one goes on display in the car windscreen and the other is used to get a refund from a retailer when a set price threshold is reached.
“We are always willing to listen to what people want, so please let me know your views by writing to me at The Guildhall, St Peter’s Hill, Grantham, NG31 6PZ or email to firstname.lastname@example.org”