Review of parking charges in Leighton Buzzard called for amid row over plans to increase fees

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‘It would allow for a sensible public debate’

A review of charges at council-owned car parks in Leighton Buzzard have been called for amid plans to hike prices.

It comes in the wake of criticism over Central Bedfordshire Council’s(CBC) proposed increases which have been described as a ‘hammer blow’.

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Plans to increase charges were discussed during a Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting with councillor John Gurney describing the proposed rise of six per cent as “punitive”.

Duncombe Drive car parkDuncombe Drive car park
Duncombe Drive car park

But John Baker, Independent (Aspley and Woburn), has hit back at the complaints, explaining no change was proposed for half an hour’s parking, with just a 10p increase for one or two hours, from £1.50 to £1.60.

He also reminded councillors there were over 100 free short term parking spaces in Leighton Buzzard and said a review of town parking charges was needed.

He said: “I suggested a review of town parking charges through the town council/CBC partnership committees, allowing a sensible public debate. It’s no good talking about offering free parking, for example, without thinking about where the funding will come from.

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"The income generated from car parks contributes towards Civil Enforcement Officers, upkeep of car parks, road safety schemes and bus subsidies. So there has to a costing balance.

”Councillor Harvey is demanding free parking and increases in bus subsidies. One pays for the other, so how does that work? Or is she proposing the council reduces bus subsidies and hence services? What’s needed is a properly costed strategy.”

He added: "Reference was also made to free parking at MK One, yet MK One has now introduced parking charges (at £1/hour) across most car parks, leaving a vastly reduced area of car parking for ‘free’.

"It also costs money to drive from Leighton Buzzard to MK One and back, a 20-mile round trip, so it's a fairly irrelevant comparison on parking charges alone.”

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A Central Beds Council spokesperson said: “Our annual Fees and Charges Report report suggested an increase across a range of services including car parking fees.

“If agreed the proposal would see an increase in parking fees to the rate of inflation (6.1 per cent), which would see an hour parking increase from £1.50 to £1.60 across all our car parks. Parking fees and charges were not increased last year.”