Cheltenham's MP, Alex Chalk, has this week repeated his call for parking charges to be reduced in Cheltenham to make the town "more competitive".
Mr Chalk drew attention to the issue in the election campaign, and pledged to sit down with local decision makers if elected and encourage them to adopt what he described as a "common sense approach" to parking. At the meeting at the Municipal Offices, which took place on Monday, the town's representative in Westminster re-emphasised the need for Cheltenham to remain competitive in the face of efforts by neighbouring towns, including Gloucester and Tewkesbury, to make themselves more attractive to shoppers.
He described evening charges, which continue until 8pm in some of Cheltenham's off-street car parks, as “excessive", particularly when compared to the cut-off time of 6pm in Gloucester and 5.30pm in Tewkesbury. He also raised concerns about current Sunday parking charges, which see motorists in Cheltenham billed up to £10 per day, compared to just £2 in Gloucester and £4 in Tewkesbury. Mr Chalk also called for a trial '30 for 30' experiment, which would give shoppers the chance to park for 30 mins for just 30p.
The Borough Council have recently announced the launch of a review of parking across the town, with both on-street and off-street parking on the agenda. Initial discussions are set to begin in October and a final report expected next summer.
Despite welcoming the review, Mr Chalk wants to see progress made more quickly. Speaking after the meeting he said "I welcome the decision of the Borough Council to look again at the cost of parking in our town. But the Council's working group isn't set to reveal their findings until at least next summer. And in the meantime there is a danger Cheltenham will lose out to rival centres which are snapping at our heels. I would urge the Council to look into discounting schemes in the meantime, to keep Cheltenham attractive for shoppers and businesses alike.’'