Friday, March 2, 2018

News: Freeze for parking fees as footfall slides


Rotherham Council is set to freeze parking fees in the town centre, recognising that footfall continues to decline.

Proposals to amend parking charges in the town centre were brought in during 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."

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.

Approving its latest budget where £15.1m of savings are set to be made in the next financial year, the authority is set to increase the majority of fees it charges by 3% in line with inflation.

However, a report to the Council's cabinet shows that: "In respect of car parking charges, it is not proposed to increase charges in 2018/19.

"The Council is mindful in particular of the reducing footfall in the town centre and the need to encourage visitors to support town centre businesses. The Directorate will review a suite of measures which will support town centres whilst at the same time delivering the required income overall."


As reported first by Rothbiz, new parking incentives are being introduced. From this weekend, visitors to five town centre car parks on Saturdays will receive two extra hours parking when they purchase a ticket for two hours – four hours for the price of two.

Free all day Saturday parking in over 500 spaces at Forge Island remains. As well as two hours free every day in the "red zone."

Free parking across the board remains unlikely. Those behind the masterplan for the area insisted that it is not the key to success.

Rotherham Council's Corporate Plan sets out the priorities for serving local residents and communities. It includes a target based on the aggregate pedestrian footfall in the town centre over the course of the year. It has been declining since June 2017.

For the period between October to December 2017, which includes the key festive trading season, aggregate pedestrian footfall in the town centre was recorded at 4,526,577. This is an 17.58% decrease on the same quarter in the previous year. 5,492,033 was recorded for the Christmas trading period between October and December 2016.

The closure of Primark in November 2017 has had a big impact. Footfall for High Street in Dec 2017 has shown a decrease of 41% compared to Nov 2016.

Work continues on realising the town centre masterplan and last month Rotherham Council officially launched its search for a development partner for the redevelopment of Forge Island. Here £43m cinema and hotel led proposals are being progressed.

The focus of the masterplan is on growing leisure and residential uses rather than retail but a report to the Council adds: "This transition will be challenging; the traditional town centre footprint will contract, redevelopment and refurbishment works will create temporary disruption and the benefits from new development will not be realised until new schemes are implemented."

Images: RMBC


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