Two hours free parking in Mansfield car parks 'to be reviewed'

Clumber Street car park.
Clumber Street car park.

Shoppers and workers in Mansfield town centre could be set to enjoy two hours free parking in the town's car parks.

At its full council meeting, Mansfield District Council agreed to review the town's parking charges and see whether introducing two hours free parking would benefit the town.

It comes as Councillor Lee Anderson, Conservative member for Oakham, put forward a motion to introduce a "trial period", which he said would "promote and encourage trade" and show residents the council wants the high street to "prosper".

Coun Anderson's motion was amended by the Mansfield Independent Forum, which proposed to conduct a "detailed report" into the implications of introducing such a scheme in the town.

The amendment, put forward by MIF leader Coun Mick Barton, also proposed that the council write to the Local Government Association to request that the district's car parks become exempt from VAT and business rates - making it more cost effective to introduce the two-hour scheme.

The amendment, and the subsequent amended motion, were passed unanimously.

Coun Anderson said: "They have it in Ashfield, in Gedling and in Chesterfield, so why can't we have it in Mansfield?

"Parking charges rake in more than £1bn a year to this country and we shouldn't be using it as a cash cow.

"Our residents have tasked us to come up with imaginative ideas to improve our town centres, and it's time for us to start doing this for them."

Councillors agreed with Coun Anderson about the "sentiment" behind his motion, but many agreed with Coun Barton's amendment and that a review was "needed".

Following a debate on the amendment, Coun Andrew Tristram said: "If something is free, there is going to be a cut to something else down the line."

Coun Barton said: "I do understand what Councillor Anderson is saying, but we can't do it that easily and we do need a review into this.

"I don't think it is particularly expensive to park in our town, and to make it happen we might need to raise council tax to find the funds. And this is not fair on residents."

Coun Sonya Ward, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Mansfield, added: "We need to recognise what impact this will have on the council's budget.

"Once a review is conducted and we've got the figures, we can have a proper discussion about whether to implement this."

The decision at the full council meeting means further work will be conducted before a full decision is made on the review, with plans to monitor income and expenditure on the council's car parks between the 2020 and 2021 financial years.