Daventry District Council (DDC) is committed to offering the town free car parking “forever”, according to council leader Chris Millar.
Mr Millar told the Daventry Express he wishes to dispel rumours the council was planning to scrap free parking on the many short and long stay car parks in the town and added plans to introduce charges once the Henry Boot development plan is completed have also been thrown out.
“I want to confirm there will be no changes forever,” Mr Millar said. “ I have always been totally against it.
“Free parking will really help us to compete with other small towns. We want to encourage people to come into Daventry as well as to support our local businesses.”
Mr Millar said visitors to Daventry Country Park will still have to pay a £2 charge to help with the maintenance of the grounds.
In September 2014 the Daventry Express revealed secret plans to introduce car parking charges worth £250,000 a year had been scrapped after a meeting between developers Henry Boot and councillors in June of that year. Now local businesses have reacted favourably to Mr Millar’s guarantee, but said more has to be done to safeguard Daventry’s long-term economic prosperity.
Janet Head, manager of Orchard Print on High Street, said: “I think we need free parking in Daventry. It is a big draw to the town. A lot of people come here because of that parking. If it changed they would stop coming. But my big concern is while the huge development goes ahead people may stop coming .”
Jenni Patching, of Second of May of Serendipity, agreed. She said: “We have people come from as far away as Rugby or Southam to visit Daventry. But it is a matter of surviving the disruption of the new development.”
Claire Mehay is manager of The Hideout Cafe on Sheaf Street. She said she was leaving Daventry and handing her business over to a member of staff because prospects are better for small businesses in Northampton because of new incentives launched by Northampton Borough Council.
She said: “There is no footfall in the town. It is very poor at the moment. Charges would be detrimental to the town centre, but a lot of our of our customers are regulars who come to see us every day.”