Icy response to car park charge freeze

Top Tories at Borough Hall have called for a 20 per cent reduction in car parking charges.

Last week we reported that charges at Bedford Borough Council-run car parks were to be frozen for the third time.

But this week Conservative Councillor Roger Rigby claimed that more could be done to help shoppers.

He said: “In the past 18 months usage has fallen by two per cent in the council’s car parks. In this tough economic climate a 20 per cent reduction in parking charges would keep money in visitors’ pockets and make it easier for them to visit the town centre.

“This in turn would increase footfall and give a shot in the arms to businesses in the town.”

He added: “Councillor Charles Royden is wrong in saying reductions are unaffordable, I feel changes would be self-funding through increased usage and now revenue streams could be used to support the move.”

But Councillor Charles Royden, portfolio holder for transport at Borough Hall rebuffed the accusation.

He said: “In past years the Conservatives treated shoppers as a cash cow, imposing eye-watering increases in parking charges, which more than doubled in six years. If they had been allowed to continue, shoppers would be facing a charge of £4.50 for two hours parking in Lurke Street car park from April, instead of £1.60. It is astonishingly hypocritical of them to complain now after a three year price freeze and real terms price cuts for town centre car parks.”