Free parking put to test with pilot

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Free parking could become a reality in Aylesbury – if a trial in Buckingham is a success.

A six-month pilot is being proposed for Buckingham which would see fees at two car parks scrapped and a third have its charges slashed.

If the scheme helps revitalise the town, Aylesbury Vale District Council would consider implementing it elsewhere.

Councillor Brian Roberts, cabinet member for civic amenities, said: “We have to see what happens and then go from there.

“This council is very mindful of the impact of the economic downturn on Aylesbury town centre, and indeed throughout the Vale, which is why we are doing our very best to peg parking charges despite the very difficult financial pressure the council is under generally.”

The three-hour tariff for parking in council-owned Aylesbury car parks has been reduced to encourage longer visits and boost trade.

Last year Liberal Democrats on the council proposed free evening and Sunday parking in Aylesbury to boost trade. This idea was kicked out by the Tories, who said the resulting revenue shortfall would have to be made up somewhere else, such as through a council tax increase.

Mr Roberts said the circumstances in each town are treated individually before any measures are introduced.

Under the Buckingham plan, parking will be free at the Stratford Fields and Western Avenue car parks and people will only have to pay 50p for up to three hours in the Cornwalls Meadow car park.

It is hoped the scheme, due to start in the summer, will encourage greater use of the town’s car parks and help resolve on-street parking problems.

Mr Roberts said: “A lot of work has gone into this proposal, and I hope it serves to alleviate some of the concerns raised by councillors and traders over the past few months.

“We hope the move will be welcomed by businesses, visitors and shoppers who will all benefit from free parking in the town.”