Despite Bedford Borough Council facing an unprecedented financial challenge, it has plans to keep the town’s free parking scheme in place.
New proposals will maintain the two-hours free parking on Saturday and all-day free parking on Sunday in council-owned car parks.
They would also introduce new opportunities to park for free in the evening in the town centre, which the council hopes will ensure Bedford businesses and the local economy can continue to thrive.
Season Parking Ticket prices have been reduced in order to support town centre employers and workers also, and new 15-minute ‘Drop Off’ bays are to be introduced along Greyfriars to give people more flexibility to pick up and drop off passengers.
A council spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, it has not been able to completely protect all car parking fees from increasing. Whilst the real cost of shoppers’ parking has fallen every year for 5 years in a row, budget pressures have meant that it is not possible for this to be the case again this year.
“As a result, some tariffs are proposed to be marginally raised, with the biggest increase being an additional 20p an hour.”
She added: “However, the opportunity to shop in Bedford for only 50p an hour and less than £1 for 2 hours, parking within the Town Centre will still remain extremely reasonable.”
Portfolio Holder for Transport and Environmen Cllr Charles Royden said: “At a time of such enormous financial pressure, the Council’s commitment to retain free parking all day Sunday and two hours on a Saturday, and to introduce free parking after 6pm both on street and in town centre MSCPs is fantastic news which will help the local economy boost night time trade and encourage local residents to visit our already-thriving town centre.”
The proposed car park charges for 2016 will be considered by the Council’s Executive with the rest of the Council’s Fees and Charges at its meeting on Wednesday 4th November.
To have your say on Budget Proposals, please visit www.bedford.gov.uk/budget2016