Tuesday, January 23, 2018

News: Further parking incentives in Rotherham town centre

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Rotherham Council is set to introduce further parking incentives to support economic growth in Rotherham town centre, but have stopped short of offering free parking across the board.

Rothbiz reported in 2017 on how the local authority planned to support existing businesses as they wait for the catalyst projects in the new masterplan to revive the town centre.

These include parking incentives, the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), marketing and promotion and opportunities for "meanwhile uses," window/frontage treatments and potential free Wi-Fi.

Now details of the new parking incentives have been set out by the Council.

Visitors are set to be offered two hours free parking at the expiration of a two hour session purchased in some town centre Council operated off-street car parks on Saturdays.

Free parking has been offered on the Council's Forge Island car park on both Saturdays and Sundays for a number of years. This is set to be impacted by the key regeneration site being used as a temporary bus station before a cinema and hotel led development scheme comes forward.

Four hours parking for the price of two is set to be introduced in the Council car parks at Clifton Hall, Drummond Street (pictured), Riverside (off Corporation Street), Scala and Wellgate multi storey. It has been signed off by Damien Wilson, strategic director of regeneration and environment at Rotherham Council as an officer delegated decision.

Two hours in Wellgate multi storey currently costs £1.50 with four hours priced at £2.00. All day parking is £3.50.

At Riverside, one hour is 50p and two hours costs £1.00. Here that charge for four hours is £2.00 and over four hours costs £3.00.

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A Council report states: "It is anticipated that the offer will encourage shoppers / visitors to stay in the town centre for longer on Saturdays and potentially support more businesses."

Addressing ways to find more than £48m of budget savings, Rotherham Council approved proposals to amend parking charges in the town centre in 2016 to "generate additional income in order to help ensure a more self-financing Parking Service which currently has an "underlying budget pressure" of £137,000."

Councillors on the Overview & Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB) said at the time that they were only supportive of the option to increase charges on the basis of free (off street) parking being provided on Saturdays but this was not acceded to.

The RAC Foundation recently published figures that showed that parking operations at Rotherham Council made £496,000 in the last financial year. The authority's 2016-17 Parking Operations Surplus was 40% higher than the £353,000 reported in the previous year.

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In introducing the latest incentives, the Council report shows that offering complete Free Saturday Parking was discounted as it was considered that "the loss of income would cause a significant budget pressure."

Free Parking after 3pm on Saturdays was also discounted as it was considered that the costs were "too great when considering the limited likely benefits."

The report concludes that: "The loss of income from the recommended offer is likely to be negligible because the vast majority of Saturday parking sales are currently for two hours or all day durations."

National retailer, Tesco introduced a new parking regime last year with users of the Drummond Street store's car park wanting to park for over 30 minutes now having to spend £5 in the store and register their vehicle.

It is not yet known when the new incentives will be introduced.

Images: Google Maps

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