Fri, 18 Oct 2019
THERE have been renewed calls for free parking after 3pm in Newbury town centre.
Lib Dem district councillor Phil Barnett says he is concerned that vacant units at Newbury Retail Park appear to be snapped up faster than those in the town.
As reported in the Newbury Weekly News recently, two new stores have announced they will be opening at the retail park.
Supermarket giant Lidl will move into the unit previously occupied by Homebase, while German footwear company Deichmann will take the former Mothercare unit.
Mr Barnett has urged both West Berkshire Council and Newbury Business Improvement District (BID) – which manages the town centre – to see what can be done to address the issue.
He raised his point at a meeting of Newbury Town Council’s planning and highways committee on Monday night.
Speaking to the NWN, Mr Barnett said: “I submitted my question because it seems that the retail park are able to get new tenants quickly into empty units.
“But why is it that in the town there are so many empty properties that seem to take an age to fill?
“Is it rent prices putting them off?
“Having empty shops doesn’t give a good impression of the town.
“I simply asked if we can we urge the BID to make every effort to make sure they are not empty for too long.
“My point was, should we not urge West Berkshire Council to give people a greater incentive for people to park in the town centre?
“It’s something I definitely feel needs addressing.
“I regularly go to towns in Gloucestershire – Cirencester is one example – which offer free parking after 3pm.
“I think that is something that ought to be explored here too.
“If not, perhaps the council should be looking at some kind of beneficial parking arrangement on a Thursday and Saturday to bring people in on market days?”
Mr Barnett’s suggestion follows similar calls from his Lib Dem colleague Martha Vickers, who recently asked whether the council would consider offering free parking on market days.
On that occasion, the council’s executive member for transport, Richard Somner, said that there was an “adequate supply” of free 30-minute parking in the town centre and surrounding streets.
n Do parking charges put you off parking in the town centre? Would you be more inclined to shop at the retail park? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your views.