We are aware at the EDC that the subject of free parking in the evenings and on Sundays is a major issue. The topic has been on the local agenda for some time now and called for by the local public and retailers alike.
Consumers are looking for convenient and cheaper place to shop and retailers want to attract more people to use Newbury compared to other local shopping destinations.
There are a few parking opportunities in Newbury that offer cheap or free parking for short periods of time, but these are limited and not always in the best location for the users.
There is also free parking at locations including the Sainsbury’s store where cars can be parked for up to two hours for free. This is not particularly well known or even promoted through signposting in the town centre and of course does not suit those with limited mobility.
In these tough times, Newbury retailers and local hostelries need all the support they can get to help boost their customer base, without a thriving town centre we will all lose out.
At peak times – during the working day and on Saturdays, it is believed that car parking rates in Newbury are on a par with other local towns. However, the EDC firmly believes that a free car parking initiative to help enhance the Newbury night-time economy and Sunday trading in particular would be worthwhile.
Our focus at the EDC is to create an environment in Newbury and indeed throughout West Berkshire that is welcoming to local residents and those visiting from elsewhere while also supporting local businesses whether they are independent or representing a national brand.
Of course, it should go without saying that we are aware of the environmental issues surrounding a policy which seeks to potentially bring more cars into the town centre. At the EDC we will also encourage alternative forms of transport, including walking but cycling and local bus and train services too.
Our view is that cars will be coming into town anyway and this is really an initiative which is aimed at boosting the local retail economy. There are many other things we can do which help with the environment including our campaign for a plastic-free Newbury.
Amongst many other things the EDC represents local companies and residents. Through our broad membership across the business community and links with Visit Newbury (the BID) We have a voice and an ability to lobby for change.