BROMSGROVE Labour Group launched its manifesto for May’s district council elections this week with two hours of free town centre parking one of its promises if it gets into power.
Leader Michael Thompson said the move would give the High Street a much-needed boost and funding gleaned from extra business rates and cutting the amount paid out to the council’s senior management team, which costs over £1million-a-year, would help fund it.
“We’ve been hearing a lot about parking when we’ve been out and about – people want an injection of enthusiasm into the town.
“A lot of people say if they could pop into town to shop they would, but instead they go to supermarkets where parking is free.”
He added if millions had been paid out on changing the IT system or moving into a new council house, cash could also be spent on free parking.
Labour also pledged to introduce free parking from 6pm, rather than the current 7pm, and on Sundays. Free disabled parking in council-owned car parks and the reinstating of the pensioners’ parking pass were among the other policies. A franchised bus service connecting housing estates with the town centre would also be introduced.
Elsewhere the Labour Group said it would fit solar panels to the Parkside Council House to save energy, commit to buying electric vehicles, such as refuse lorries, work with the county council to build more cycle routes and pathways, create more community gardens and install water fountains in all green areas.
To solve the housing crisis, Labour said it would reintroduce a council social housing stock and a minimum of 60 per cent affordable homes for developers wanting to build in the area.
On transport it affirmed a commitment to a Western Relief Road, partly funded by developers building and profiting in the district, improved bus shelters and real-time timetables.
In the leisure section of the manifesto, Labour said it would build a new sports hall in the town, introduce free swimming for under-18s and bring the town’s leisure centre back under council control.
In response, Conservative Deputy Leader and Portfolio-holder for Economic Development Coun Karen May said: “We have had the results of our extensive car parking consultation back and are working up a strategy for parking in the whole district to see what we can do.
“It’s easy to make sweeping statements when you’re in opposition and haven’t got to answer to the electorate.”