April 20 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Fresh attempts are being made to secure free parking for shoppers in Felixstowe, where traders are facing tough trading times in the afternoons.
Shop owners say in the past year business has tended to tail off in the afternoons, with few people around in the town centre after 3.30pm.
They believe one of the key reasons is the cost of parking deterring school-run mums and other shoppers.
Suffolk Coastal council has already refused the chamber of trade’s request for free parking after 3pm, but now town councillors have made a new request for car parks to be “free after three” between April and October.
Councillor Mike Deacon said: “It is vital we support our town centre businesses.
“I have been to Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds and both those towns have been operating parking concessions to try to attract shoppers to visit and help their traders, and other towns are running similar schemes.
“I think ‘free after three’ would be extremely helpful here in Felixstowe.”
Councillor Martin Walker said if the project was tried during the summer months there would be a good indication of whether it would prove successful.
He said: “The local economy is showing signs of recovery and we need to do something to ensure those green shoots keep on growing and get some of our empty shops re-opening.”
Councillor Andy Smith liked the idea of “free after three” but felt Felixstowe Town Council’s request would have more chance of success at Suffolk Coastal if the idea was widened to the whole of the district.
He said: “There will be the usual collective groan of ‘Felixstowe again’ and the inevitable reaction of ‘What’s so special about Felixstowe?’ I think we will get a better response if we ask for this to be a district-wide policy.”
Councillor Kimberley Williams said: “We must not lose sight of the fact that we are here elected to represent Felixstowe. Seven months ago we asked for two ticket changes and are still waiting for a decision.
“We must keep our foot on the pedal so they know Felixstowe is serious about what it wants to see from the parking review.”
Suffolk Coastal cabinet member Andrew Nunn said a major review of car parking charges is under way and a paper will be presented to the cabinet briefing meeting on January 21 with firm recommendations by the end of the financial year.
He said: “This car parks review is the first that has been informed by very detailed data obtained from our pay-and-display machines and associated back office system. As a result of this it is a substantial piece of work to make best use of the data.
“Through the work of Suffolk Coastal Services/Waveney Norse we now have a very detailed picture of both the usage and the cost of operation of each of our car parks.
“I cannot guarantee that any particular schemes for cheaper/free parking will be adopted.”