Fears parking charge increase will drive people away

North Street car park in Ashby
Ashby town centre car parks will switch to short-stay only under the proposals [Google Streetview]

Plans to increase car parking charges in a Leicestershire town will drive people to clog up residential streets, a council has warned.

North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) has a public survey running until 2 June on proposals which would see free parking for two hours in all its car parks - apart from those in Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Instead the council wants charges there “to be in line with similar charges” in neighbouring areas.

The plan would also see the town centre car parks becoming short-stay only, with a long-stay site established at Money Hill.

Ashby Town Council says the proposed charges are “far too high”.

It fears visitors will choose to drive elsewhere where there is a greater range of shops, and those that do still come will seek out free parking on street in residential areas instead.

It also says the Money Hill site is accessed by a footpath that crosses a haulage yard, making it unfit for purpose currently.

Estate access road under construction
The long stay car park will form part of the vast Money Hill development [Google Streetview]

Calling the proposals “a major backwards step”, in a statement the town council said it would be open to taking over the operation of Ashby’s car parks.

Andy Barton, NWLDC's strategic director for housing and community services, said: "We’re having to look closely at all of our services and do what we can to close a predicted funding gap in the future.

“The proposals set out for Ashby reflect the fact that it is very different when compared to other places in the way that people use and visit the town.

"In Ashby parking is a premium, and short stay car parks could encourage a higher turnover of people in the town.

"The car parking survey is the first step in our review of parking charges. No decisions have been made yet, so I would encourage people to give us their feedback.”

'Useful feedback'

Chris Smith, leader of Ashby Town Council, said: “NWLDC are proposing dramatic changes.

“I know we all want a thriving town centre but these changes will have a substantial impact. This is another example of Ashby getting a worse deal than the rest of the district.

“I urge everybody to complete the survey and make your views known.”

NWLDC Councillor Michael Wyatt said the public survey came ahead of a fuller review of car parking in the district, in light of financial pressures.

He said: “The results of this survey will tell us more about how people use our car parks across the district. It will also give us useful feedback on the changes we’re proposing.

“We want to simplify the way we charge to park in our car parks, making it easier for people to visit our town centres for work, shopping and leisure.”

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