Fed up businesses in the heart of the Island’s county town are backing a campaign to see parking charges reduced to help bring more shoppers into Newport, help boost employment and help support businesses during these turbulent times for the High Street.
Newport Business Association (NBA) has been leading a long-standing campaign to see fairer car parking prices as the costs are said to be higher when compared to many other South Coast towns and cities. For example, it is between 40-60% more expensive to park in Newport Town than in Central Southampton’s West Quay car park.
Now, over 100 businesses are making their voices heard by putting their name to the campaign with the stark warning that further proposed parking cost increases for this year are simply untenable and in no way compatible with the sustainability of the County town.
NBA is writing an open letter to councillors and Bob Seely MP, making it clear that business is being driven out of the town centre and that this puts jobs at risk. The Association recognises that Newport town centre is in a desperate and worsening state and that radical action is needed. It also recognises that car parking revenues form an essential part of local authority revenues and that an imaginative approach to car parking can bring incomes for both Isle of Wight Council and local traders in Newport.
John McLaughlin, Chair of Newport Business Association, explains the fresh ideas that will help everyone:
“We know that car parking has a major influence on where people decide to go and spend time. We have looked at examples from other towns in the UK that have taken a new approach to car parking and found that it brought customers back to enjoy the town centre.”
The NBA proposal is to offer some additional free on-street parking, for a limited time, plus a first hour free in the main car parks. It is also believed that all car parks should be long stay, arguing that this is something shoppers are looking for. To encourage people to stay even longer in the town centre, the NBA thinks that the idea of a £5 all-day fee should be trialled.
The ideas are based on successful recent parking experiments carried out in other UK towns. The results show that people often choose to stay longer than just the free parking time and so pay for extra time. It also brings people back into town who don’t usually visit.
Mark Horton from French Franks summed up the feelings of many Newport traders:
“Parking charges in Newport do not represent value for money. Charges are on average 50% higher than parking in Central Southampton. We hear everyday how these prices are driving businesses and shoppers out of the town centre.
“We all want to see a recovering and vibrant county town. This cannot be achieved through current charging levels or proposed future increases for town centre parking.”
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Councillors are being asked to consider a 4-month trial this Autumn.