Starting April 1st — This will affect you if you drive to and park in Dunstable or Leighton Buzzard

 Parking initiatives to support the vitality of Central Bedfordshire towns

Towns across Central Bedfordshire are set to benefit from a series of parking initiatives designed to support businesses and residents.

The Central Bedfordshire Council Executive has agreed to implement parking plans that will encourage custom and vibrancy in towns across the region and support the local economy.

The new arrangements follow extensive consultation with residents and the feedback provided through the council’s Committee process. The Executive has listened and responded to the views, as much as possible, with these new plans.

A new 30-minute short stay option in car parks at just 50p* will benefit people needing to pop into their local town for a short visit. The consultation feedback identified this as being important.

To support Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard, the council is extending the free parking on certain afternoons and ensuring the offer is now available on market days in both towns. This will benefit businesses and residents.

Parking in Ashton Square Car Park in Dunstable will now be free on Wednesdays as well as Saturdays from 1pm to 6pm and visitors can use Duncombe Drive Car Park in Leighton Buzzard for free on Tuesdays and Saturdays again between 1pm and 6pm. This free parking will support the markets and business trade.

Another change to help car park users is the introduction of card payments for all tariffs at payment machines in all council-run car parks. This removes the need to use the £3.50 minimum tariff for this payment method.

To support residents further, the cost of parking permits for its Residents Parking Zones will not be increased, as we will be undertaking a full review of resident parking zones to understand how we can make the best use of them. This means they stay at £10 for a first car, £70 for a second car and £90 for a third car.

To simplify the charging structure, charges at all council-owned car parks will be standardised at £1.50 for a one hour stay and £2 for a two-hour visit.

This is the first rise in parking charges for five years, and it’s to help fund and invest in improving parking services including ongoing maintenance, staff costs and the replacement of equipment. It will also help provide additional road safety initiatives.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services, said: “We saw the strength of public opinion through our consultation. We understand the impact of the pandemic on our town centres, our High Streets, our businesses and on our residents. We want to help them as much as we can, and this is reflected in these plans.

“We are introducing a new 30-minute car parking tariff of just 50 pence*, additional free afternoon parking in Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard, the acceptance of card payments for all tariffs to make it easier for people to pay and the cost of permits for our Resident Parking Zones will remain the same.

“I have also instructed a full review of resident parking zones to understand how we can make the best use of them to support our town centres in the future.”

The council will undertake an in-depth review of the Resident Parking Zones and parking across Central Bedfordshire. This study will identify the important role parking can play in delivering the priorities set out in the council’s Strategic Plan. It will also look at how parking can support residents and our towns in the future.

These new parking changes will start on 1 April 2022.