Parking fees freeze is good for business

Mayor Dave Hodgson with the new gold footprints in Bedford. PNL-140819-124018001
Mayor Dave Hodgson with the new gold footprints in Bedford. PNL-140819-124018001

Motorists can shop until they drop without fear of hefty parking fees following news that town centre car park charges will be frozen once again.

It means that 2015 will be the fifth year in a row that Bedford Borough Council has not increased its town centre car park charges. The freeze, approved by the mayor’s office, applies to all council-owned car parks and all on-street parking in the town.

It is in stark contrast to neighbouring towns and others across the country where charges rise with inflation or more in some cases in a bid to offset government cuts to local authorities.

Parking charges more than doubled in Bedford between 2002 and 2008, but mayor Dave Hodgson has halted this trend in support of the town centre, while also introducing new initiatives such as the Mayor’s Free Parking Deal, which gives the first two hours of town centre parking for free on Saturdays.

Mr Hodgson said: “Of course charges continue to rise elsewhere, but we are committed to doing everything we can to support a thriving Bedford town centre.

“That’s why we have found further savings away from the frontline to keep parking charges down, despite unprecedented cuts to council funding.

“We’ve made this radical break from wider trends in recent years to support local shoppers and businesses through challenging times.”

The news comes at the end of a year of investment and improvement in Bedford’s car parks, says the mayor.

This has included the introduction of free parking on Sundays in multi-storey car parks and 24-hour opening of Lurke Street and River Street car parks to support the night-time economy.

There has also been a completion of the transformation of the Allhallows multi-storey car park and introduction of new change-giving payment machines complete with card payment in all council-owned car parks.