A decision on a residents’ parking scheme for Stamford has been put on hold after the town’s MP called for free town centre parking.
South Kesteven District Council’s cabinet was due to discuss a revised scheme for residents’ parking permits at a meeting on Monday.
But councillors opted to reconsider the scheme after Mr Boles asked the council to consider introducing two hours’ free parking in its car parks in last Friday’s Mercury.
Council officers will now consider the effect of Mr Boles’ idea before preparing a report in the new year.
The latest single-zone scheme had been drawn up in consultation with residents after an initial five-zone proposal was dismissed.
Any scheme would have to be approved by Lincolnshire County Council.
Steve Marsh, of Broad Street, was one of the residents consulted. He said: “We have campaigned for a long time to get the council to recognise the needs of residents alongside those of visitors and businesses.
“We had welcomed the proposal that we had worked with the council to develop, so it is devastating to see it put on hold.”
Mr Boles tweeted to say he was surprised with the council’s decision.
Town centre residents currently have temporary permits allowing them to park in on-street bays without being fined. The permits will run out in March but it is not yet known how the latest delay will affect them.
Businesses reacted well to Mr Boles’ idea.
Co-owner of Bubble and Squeak in High Street, Jess Christoudias, said: “It would help bring people in to the town. Anything to get people in and shopping locally is a good idea.
Stamford Chamber of Trade and Commerce president Tim Lee also welcomed Mr Boles’ idea. But he called on the council to come up with an overall parking strategy for the town.
He said: “This last minute-decision highlights the paramount need for an integrated and homogenised approach to all aspects of parking in Stamford.
“We need to tackle the issue from a strategic standpoint, not higgledy-piggledy. We badly need a joined-up approach that meets the needs as far as possible of all stakeholders: residents, visitors and town workers, long and short-term, on and off-street, peak and off-peak, while maximising the efficient use of this precious resource.”
Council leader Linda Neal (Con) said Mr Boles’ idea was at odds with the authority’s policy to encourage people to stay longer in its towns.
She said: “Free two hour car parking could very well lead to people popping into town to go to the bank and perhaps pick up something from a supermarket, but do little else.
“That is why our emphasis has been on making longer stays low cost.”
Mrs Neal pointed out that people who needed to park for 30 minutes or less could do so for 50p.
But she said the council was keen for visitors to stay longer and charged just £3 for an all day ticket. A similar ticket in Lincoln costs £7.50.
Mrs Neal said: “As you can see, there are no easy solutions, and one thing that is certain is that internet shopping is not going to go away and this will continue to affect high street traders.”