May 20 2013 Latest news:
By Amie Keeley
Saturday, March 2, 2013
A POPULAR free parking scheme in north Essex will continue for another year.
Members of Tendring District Council’s (TDC) cabinet met yesterday and agreed to extend the policy of issuing every council tax-paying household with a free parking permit.
It allows drivers to park for most of the day at 25 of the local authority’s car parks at no cost in a bid to boost town centre trade.
However, the scheme will now only be valid from 11am to midnight as opposed to 10am. It follows research by council officers that found a large number of the spaces were being taken up by commuters who would buy a ticket for the first hour before the free permit became valid.
The initiative was first rolled out last summer and a survey carried out on hundreds of businesses found 50% had noticed a higher footfall through their town centres and 30% said they had seen an increase in the number of customers coming through their doors.
The results prompted businesses in neighbouring Suffolk to call on their councils to introduce a similar scheme to revive struggling high streets.
And on Wednesday, St Edmundsbury Borough Council announced it would be introducing free parking in Bury St Edmunds from 3pm every Tuesday from April.
Some businesses in Tendring had called for the council to amend the scheme during the busy summer months to allow more tourists who come to the coast to use the car parks.
But during the meeting TDC leader Peter Halliday said the permits were for residents who used the shops all the year round.
He said: “It would appear from feedback this has been a success. Our residents and businesses seem very happy with it.”
He said the main aim of the scheme was to give something back to the community and increase footfall through town centres.
He added: “We want our residents to use our shops and our high streets. We will be appealing to shop owners to come to work by foot or bus because they are your shoppers and we are giving them somewhere to park.”
The scheme will cost £300,000 in lost revenue to the council which has been factored into this year’s budget.
New parking permits valid from April 1 will also have to be issued because of legal reasons, costing £8,000.
Mr Halliday said as Tendring was a rural district it meant that people had to rely on cars more than in urban areas and urged residents to use them “sensibly”.
“We all use cars to get about, so please park in our car parks sensibly and shop in our high streets and part with your hard-earned money,” he said.