MPs pledge free parking for all at Central Milton Keynes
Local Conservatives, with the support of Milton Keynes two MPs, have pledged to introduce free car parking at the city centre if they take control of the council in May’s elections.
The campaign aims to get MK’s economy bouncing back as local businesses begin to open their doors once again following months of being closed due to the national lockdown.
The MK Conservatives want to encourage more people back to the shopping centre to help kickstart the local economy and protect jobs in industries that have struggled throughout the pandemic such as retail and hospitality.
In July 2020, 72 per cent of respondents in a poll said that “free parking would encourage them to shop on the high street”.
The local Conservative group also received over 1,000 signatures on a petition calling for two hours free parking at CMK.
The pledge comes as councils up and down the country announce the introduction of free parking schemes to help boost their local economy as businesses open their doors. Leeds, Dorchester, Bishop Stortford, Wakefield, Havering and neighbouring Buckinghamshire Council are all offering free parking as part of their roadmap to recovery.
Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group, said: “We need to be doing everything possible to support small businesses, protect jobs and get our economy bouncing back.
With businesses reopening their doors, our offer of free parking would encourage people to return to help out their local shops, restaurants and cafes safely while providing a welcome boost to local businesses.
Milton Keynes MPs Iain Stewart and Ben Everitt are supporting the campaign.
MK Council is currently run by Labour, and leader Cllr Pete Marland does not think free parking is the answer to the flagging retail economy.
His view is that some retail jobs won’t be returning, following the closure of Debenhams and many other High Street that have suffered similarly from the rise of online shopping.
“No amount of free parking is going to bring back Debenhams,” he said.
Instead, he sees supporting the creation of green jobs, and unique independent high street retailers as the way forward.