Cheap parking offer 'not publicised'

A COUNCIL has been criticised for failing to publicise a car parking offer that gives cheap tariffs to shoppers in the daytime.

Elliot Furniss

A COUNCIL has been criticised for failing to publicise a car parking offer that gives cheap tariffs to shoppers in the daytime.

The Day Out in Colchester offer allows visitors to use the borough council-run Britannia Car Park at the Colchester Town station for just £2 between the hours of 10am and 3pm.

People parking at the newly refurbished pay-and-display site have to press a separate yellow button to take up the offer, but one retailer in the town feels not enough has been done to promote the scheme.

Steve Miller, who runs Miller Stationary on St Botolph's Street, said customers had drawn the offer to his attention and he was left surprised that Colchester Borough Council had not done more to tell people about it.

He said: “They're offering discounts but they're not telling anybody. The only way you find out is there is a little yellow button.

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“A lot of people are not seeing it and are getting very angry. It's there - and it's brilliant for the town - but they (the council) need to promote it.”

Mr Miller said it was a “counter-productive” move to offer cheap parking but not tell anyone about it and said it could leave people feeling conned.

Paul Smith, the council's portfolio holder for resources and business, said the offer had been successfully trialled during the summer and would be heavily promoted in the build up to Christmas.

He said: “It is part of a scheme of initiatives about car parking that we're going to be publicising in the run-up to Christmas.

“The aim is to cut congestion - it's for people prepared to travel in off-peak and leave before peak time. It was a trial during the summer to see what sort of take-up there would be.”

He said he welcomed feedback that many people were unaware of the offer and promised it would be heavily promoted in the coming weeks to help spread the Christmas shopping traffic around the town's car parks.

Richard Walker, the council's parking services manager, said the July to September trial had seen 2,600 people make use of the offer and extending it would help more shoppers pay less for their parking.

He said: “In the past we couldn't do these things because our regulations wouldn't let us. We trialled it in the summer and we didn't make too much of a thing about it.

“We now know it works and the car park is virtually finished and we're at the point where we can market it heavily now.

“It gives something back to the people who aren't contributing to the peak hour travel.”

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