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Poll: Tendring district’s free parking in town centres boosting high street according to council chiefs

PUBLISHED: 15:37 17 July 2014 | UPDATED: 15:37 17 July 2014

Tendring District Council leader Mick Page

Tendring District Council leader Mick Page

Archant

A popular free parking permit scheme has contributed significantly to the health of Tendring’s high streets.

New figures have revealed only 4.4% of shops in Dovercourt are empty, 4.8% in Frinton and 7.5% in Clacton. The national average is 13.4%.

Council chiefs say the Tendring parking scheme – set up in 2012 to offer every tax paying household in the district a free parking permit – has been a key factor in supporting local high streets.

Mick Page, Tendring District Council leader and cabinet member for regeneration, inward investment and asset management, said he was delighted Tendring is bucking the trend. “These rates are really good news and show that our high streets are thriving in difficult economic times,” he said.

Although the free permits are not the sole reason behind Tendring’s town centre success, Mr Page believes they have proven a catalyst for increased trade.

He said: “While there will be a number of contributory factors behind this I firmly believe – and that has been confirmed by traders – that our efforts to be car-friendly and our overall parking policy are major reasons behind this.”

The scheme was introduced to encourage residents to ‘shop local’ and helped reduce the number of empty stores around the district.

Permit holders are able to use all but two of TDC’s car parks across the district from 11am every day.

In an effort to attract shoppers at a time when trade is often slow, TDC allows everyone to use the car parks free of charge after 3pm through to 8am the next day.

Darren Bradwell, chairman of Clacton Town Centre Partnership, agreed the parking permits had made a significant difference.

“Free parking for shoppers has been a big bonus for us,” he said. “I think you will find that any trader in the town centre would say the same and it has been welcomed.”

The free parking scheme has received widespread approval and attracted attention from further afield.

Mr Page said: “It has been appreciated by traders and residents alike and other councils have contacted us about the idea.

“Various business groups in other areas have been calling on their Councils to follow this lead,” he added.

Although £300,000 was set aside last year to cover the scheme and potential loss of income, it had actually been reduced by £50,000 due to the increased use of the car parks by visitors.

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