So the cabinet of Boston Borough Council is proposing to raise car parking charges to help balance a very difficult budget situation?
I applaud the Boston Standard for launching a campaign against this ill-judged proposal.
In my view the extra charges will not raise the £166,000 per year the council is hoping for; it will simply reduce the number of shoppers in the town centre.
I led the last administration and one of our first actions was to reduce car parking charges.
The result was an increase in the use of those parks and an increase in the council’s revenue. An increase now is unlikely to give the council’s cabinet any extra money and it will damage town centre use and business.
Some evidence shows that, in comparative terms, Boston town centre is doing very well in terms of shop vacancies. It was the best in Lincolnshire in 2010 with only 7.6 per cent of vacancies.
By comparison 15 per cent of shops in Lincoln had no tenants and worst of all was Grimsby, with 26 per cent of shops empty. Boston is not bad now but the council has to work hard to keep it that way.
The just-published Portas review confirms that affordable car parking is one of the most important ways of keeping a town centre vibrant and well used.
Boston town centre has a lot of competition from other towns and out-of-town outlets and it could become greater.
Car parking income cannot any longer be regarded as an easy way to balance the budget. This has to be done by continuing to reduce overhead staffing costs of the council by smarter working.
The council has been very successful at doing this over the last four years. Now the Conservatives are in charge they must continue this process to balance the budget.
Coun Richard Austin