Friday, November 11, 2011

News: Free parking set to return to Rotherham town centre


Rotherham Council is planning to re-introduce free parking on Saturdays to support town centre retailers during the important festive period.

Cabinet member approval is being sought to cover the costs of providing free parking in council owned car parks in Rotherham town centre on six Saturdays from November 19 to December 24 inclusive.

The period between the Christmas lights switch-on event on November 17 and Christmas Day is the key period for retailers that can ensure the year-round profitability of the business. A poor Christmas trade can have a significant impact on the viability of the business.

If approved £28,000 from the council's Rotherham Economic Regeneration Fund will cover the costs. The loss of revenue for each Saturday is estimated at £4,000 and funds will also be used to promote the scheme.

Free parking is only available in RMBC car parks and maximum stay rules would still apply.

In the report, Bernadette Rushton, Retail Investment Manager at Rotherham Council, said: "It is hoped that the offer will encourage shopping activity and drive footfall to support town centre businesses. The town centre continues to compete with out of town shopping locations offering year-round free parking.

"Christmas is a significant trading period for retailers and successful trading at this time underpins the year-round profitability of the business.

"Whilst a campaign is underway to promote the family friendly events and much improved independent shopping offer in the town centre, this would be significantly strengthened if the additional incentive of free parking were available. In addition this facility has been offered over recent years leading to a certain level of expectation from both shoppers and businesses."

In 2010 funding was used to provide free parking on Saturdays and after 3 o' clock each day. Consultation with town centre businesses showed that 74 per cent traders felt the "Free After 3" initiative had the potential to improve trade and footfall and just under half of those indicated that trade had already improved shortly after the scheme was brought in.

Sixty four per cent of those traders surveyed also suggested trade and footfall had also increased with the free Saturday parking scheme.

Rotherham town centre website


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