Cut charges to save our towns

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Cheaper car parking is needed to save our towns say Dales traders.

The results of a survey of independent traders overwhelmingly cited parking issues as the biggest problem facing the future of shopping locally.

Last year Derbyshire Dales District Council paid consultants to write an action plan to help independent businesses survive the recession.

As a result of the findings the council is now set to put in place a host of measures to help struggling traders across the area.

The results show that traders in Matlock have ‘low optimism’ in their town and nearly 70 per cent of those surveyed said improved car parking was needed.

One retailer said: “People really resent paying for car parking, especially if they live here.

“They’re offended by having to pay £1.20 to park for ten minutes and so drive somewhere they can park for free.”

The consultants say ways to integrate the Sainsbury’s development – which has free parking – with the town centre should also be pursued.

Derbyshire Dales District Council is set to discuss the findings at a meeting in Matlock Town Hall at 6pm today.

Officers have recommended councillors take on board the consultants suggestions and review the car parking pricing structure, look at the quantity of car parking throughout all town centres and improve signage to existing car parks.

Traders in Bakewell also called for improved car parking with 60 per cent saying it was the single most important factor to improving the town centre to meet the needs of shoppers, workers, visitors and businesses.

Matlock traders said the shortage of parking was by far the biggest disadvantage to operating in the town.

The next most frequent responses were low footfall, limited retail offer and the by-pass and one-way system.

Only one third of Matlock business bosses believed the residents’ parking initiative assisted independent retailers.

They said there was not enough parking spaces for people to use and felt the times were too limiting.

They urged the council to allow customers to park for free for a limited time.

Currently charges in district council car parks are £1.20 for one hour, two hours is £1.90, three hours is £3, four hours £4 and over four hours pay £5.

The parking charges rose in January, the second price hike in ten months.

Suggestions for new car parks in the town included the east end of Firs Parade and on the track which runs to the south west of the park.

The consultants stated: “Our survey of independent traders in Matlock shows that optimism in the town is low.

“However in reality, the town benefits from a plentiful supply of free parking at Sainsbury’s store.

“This car park is only a few minutes walk from the centre of Matlock.”