Mon, 14 Sept 2020
A RECENTLY-retired Newbury market trader has urged West Berkshire Council to “bite the bullet” and offer two hours free parking to get people back into town.
Glyn Moyse, who ran the watch stall at the market for 41 years before calling it a day on Saturday, said that even before Covid-19 he had noticed it “getting a lot quieter”.
It came a week after a survey of 468 shoppers, conducted by Newbury Town Council and Newbury Business Improvement District (BID), showed that 71 per cent of respondents wanted one or two hours free parking.
Earlier this year, Newbury’s deputy mayor Billy Drummond also called for free parking to “give town centre businesses a fighting chance of surviving”.
However, council leader Lynne Doherty this week said she had seen “no evidence” to say that places which had introduced free parking had seen a significant increase in footfall.
But Mr Moyse said: “I used to go to Abingdon and it was my quietest market. The town was dead. Nearly all the shops were shut.
“To their credit, the local council realised they needed to do something and introduced two hours free parking. In the space of a couple of months it went from my quietest market to the busiest.
“If people think they have to pay £4 or £5 they are more likely to go elsewhere.
“You can see on a Sunday morning traffic queuing down the bypass to get into the retail park.
“Sometimes you have got to see the bigger picture and bite the bullet to achieve a better outcome in the long run.”
Mrs Doherty said: “There have been a lot of conversations around this, but from what I have seen there is very little evidence to suggest it makes any difference in the places it has been done. Our car parks are full and our footfall is up.
“We are currently working with central government to recoup some of our lost income from Covid. It would be very difficult for us to say ‘we would like to be recompensed for lost income, but oh, by the way, we are giving some of it away’.”