No to free parking in Aylesbury at evenings and weekends

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Calls to scrap evening and Sunday car parking changes across Aylesbury have been rejected.

On Tuesday Aylesbury Vale District Council’s cabinet voted to reject a motion, which claimed the move would ‘assist the struggling retail businesses’ in the town centre.

View - Walton Street Car Park in Aylesbury - re: Barriers stuck open so people are parking for free

View - Walton Street Car Park in Aylesbury - re: Barriers stuck open so people are parking for free

Cabinet member for resources Neil Blake said: “There is no evidence to indicate that traders in the town are suffering because of the parking charges.”

The motion, brought by Lib Dem councillors Steven Lambert and Avril Davies, cited a report by TV retail guru Mary Portas which found free parking could lure shoppers to town centres.

But a report prepared ahead of the meeting found that footfall in Aylesbury’s two biggest shopping centres has not fallen by as much as the national average.

If the charges were scrapped the council would have to make up the shortfall from other budgets – the evening charge currently generates £90,659 a year and the Sunday charge £79,714.

Cabinet member for leisure David Thompson said: “This (parking charges) is not having a detrimental effect.

“If we do this to the town we are going to have to carry out the same exercise through all the car parks that we own or operate and it’s not financially viable.”

Cabinet member for planning Carole Paternoster said: “When you go anywhere you expect to have to pay to park.

“People are quite happy to pay to have the use of a car park like that, I certainly am. I cannot support this motion because of the impact it will have on our other services.”

Council leader John Cartwright said: “I do think a £1 charge is very reasonable. I went to a theatre in Birmingham and it cost me £8 to park.”

The defeated motion, which requested that the charges were scrapped for a trial period of six months, also praised recent efforts by the town to become a Portas pilot town.

Aylesbury was one of 270 places which bid for a slice of a £1 million fund from the Government to improve its town centre – but its bid was rejected in May.

The motion said: “(We) highly commend the Portas bid for Aylesbury and the work of Aylesbury Town Council, the Aylesbury Town Centre Partnership manager and supporting local businesses in preparing and submitting the bid. However, we note with disappointment that Aylesbury town centre was not successful in the first round of bid allocation.”