‘Time to think out of the box on car parking’

Melanie Beck, director of MKCCM
Melanie Beck, director of MKCCM

Businesses will leave the city if MK Council fails to reach a long-term solution to the parking crisis.

A 12-month delay in reducing discounts for parking permits, meaning employees paying more to park, is merely a “stay of execution”, according to business representatives who believe the city’s sustainable economy is being “put in jeopardy”.

And, in a further blow to the council, an independent report says that the city “may be a great place to start a business, but questions whether it is a great place to be a business”.

Melanie Beck, manager of Milton Keynes City Centre Management (MKCCM), told the Citizen: “Businesses are pushing at a closed door because the council is not listening.

“Their focus is too scattergun. All the council can see is that they have to make cuts, they’re not looking at the bigger picture.

“Although we are pleased to get 12 months it does feel a little bit like we have been put in the tower of London and in 12 months’ time we will still get our heads cut off.”

The report, carried out by the Association of Town and City Management, interviewed 12 stakeholders over the last six weeks and said its research reaffirmed the “risk of a rift” developing between the council and businesses.

Ms Beck added: “This situation will affect the long term sustainability of this city.

“You will start to lose the vibrancy of the city with these charges pushing businesses over the edge. ”

Dr Philip Smith, chairman of MK Business Leaders, believes the council needs to invest in improving future transport.He said: “The future is not just about people being able park. The council needs to look at ensuring driverless cars and pods, and bus services are up to scratch so that we don’t have all these cars trying to park in the city centre.”

Council leader Pete Marland said he had not seen the report carried out on the role of MKCCM, but argued the parking crisis should have been solved years ago.

He said: “We are developing a parking strategy to carry out a long-term plan to make sure we keep businesses here.

“The city is still an amazing place to start and be a business, but we need to work together to tackle the challenges we face. People have a right to express opinion, but we did listen. I am confident we will move on and improve relationships.”