A petition set up by the Milton Keynes Conservatives to achieve free parking in Central Milton Keynes for all shoppers has reached over 1,000 signatures. The campaign, backed by local MPs and councillors, aims to help attract shoppers back as MK’s economy begins to recover from lockdown.
As of July 1st, no residents receive free parking in Central Milton Keynes. However, the local Conservatives believe that free parking will help boost visitor numbers and give retail businesses a fighting chance at recovery.
Prior to Covid-19, footfall across Xscape, Intu and Centre:MK had dropped by 8 million people over the past four years with the cost of parking being cited as a major factor.
Recent data from Centre for Cities, a study that looks at how cities and town centres are recovering from lockdown, shows Milton Keynes outside the top 10 and below Northampton in footfall recovery.
At the end of June, neighbouring council Buckinghamshire announced they were going to continue their support for local businesses by delaying the reintroduction of parking charges until the 1st of August.
Other Councils have also followed suit with Bolton, Ribble Valley and Stroud all announcing free parking offers to attract shoppers back to their shopping centres, while Stoke-on-Trent have introduced free parking for shoppers for 30 minutes in certain retail areas to boost business.
Leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr Alex Walker, said:
“Our campaign for free parking in CMK for all shoppers has reached over thousand signatures and has now been handed to the Labour Council.
Right now it seems that the Labour Council is asleep at the wheel in focusing on MK’s economic recovery. We need to be doing everything possible to support local businesses and jobs and offering free parking is one avenue to do just that.
We are aware of the hit to council parking revenue, but frankly if CMK doesn’t get itself back on its feet we will lose businesses and jobs.”