A political row has erupted after the man who hopes to become the next mayor claims high car park fees are ‘devastating’ Bedford town centre.
Conservative mayoral candidate Jas Parmar claims Bedford is becoming increasingly run down as it cannot compete with nearby destinations such as Milton Keynes.
He said: “‘Getting car parking charges right every day of the week is the challenge, creating vitality, jobs and a successful town centre.
“Expensive parking combined with free parking at edge-of-town retailers and growing internet shopping are having a devastating impact on Bedford shops.”
Mr Parmar accused the Liberal Democrat Mayor of taxing the motorists and driving the people away from town centre shops.
He said: “The Mayor has kept charges too high for too long. The damage he has done to Bedford and its increasingly run-down town centre must be stopped.”
He claims the council made £562,000 in the 2012-13 financial year from parking charges and penalties, and slammed new parking meters which do not give change.
Deputy Mayor and Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport Councillor Charles Royden said: “It is financially illiterate and misleading of Jas Parmar to suggest the council has made any profit from car parking, having spent millions on two new surface car parks and on refurbishing the multi-storey car park at the bus station.
“Mayor Dave Hodgson’s four straight years of car park charge freezes and his Saturday free parking deal have cut the real cost of parking.
“The Conservatives should stop advocating driving to Milton Keynes and instead recognise the fantastic free parking offers which the Mayor has made available to support shoppers and businesses.”