A move designed to boost Aylesbury’s struggling economy by scrapping Sunday and evening parking charges has been kicked into touch by councillors.
Tory members of Aylesbury Vale District Council vetoed Liberal Democrat Councillor Avril Davies’ motion on the grounds that it would result in the loss of a vital source of income.
The motion failed despite pleas to ‘put politics aside’, with some councillors arguing such action is necessary to stop the town being ‘killed off’ as shoppers go elsewhere.
Mrs Davies’ motion cited TV retail guru Mary Portas’ report, which found free parking could lure shoppers to town centres.
Prior to the Wednesday meeting, cabinet recommended the motion be refused, a decision Mrs Davies said she was ‘disappointed’ by, claiming a change to fees would help contribute to ‘a more vibrant economy in this town’.
If the charges had been 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.
Lib Dem leader, Councillor Steven Lambert, said the debate had been turned into one about revenue rather than economic revival, while Councillor Raj Khan, Lib Dem, said: “People who used to come to church are now paying to pray in town. For God’s sake, put politics aside and vote for Aylesbury.”
Cabinet member Councillor David Thompson said steps are being taken to encourage retailers back to the town.
Councillor Mike Hawkett said there was an argument for fees to be increased, rather than reduced.