Free month of parking plan to help town centres in Derbyshire Dales rebuild

Parking in towns in the Derbyshire Dales could be made free after 2pm for the whole month of September in an aim to boost the local economy after lockdown v.1

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 11:51 am
Car parks in Matlock.
Car parks in Matlock.

Parking in towns in the Derbyshire Dales could be made free after 2pm for the whole month of September in an aim to boost the local economy after lockdown.

Paul Wilson, the chief executive of Derbyshire Dales District Council, says free parking is not the solution to all of the problems being experienced in the area’s town centres.

He also warns that long-term free parking, considering the authority’s own financial position and in need of all the income it gets, has significant risks.

However, he has suggested that the authority, after a prompt from the Ashbourne Town Team, make parking free after 2pm through September, as the authority does at Christmas.

This would see the authority miss out on £45,000 in much-needed income.

Other options are to have free parking on Saturdays in September (£56,000 in lost income); free parking on weekends in September (£107,000); and free parking for the whole of September (£201,000).

The plans would affect the district’s four town centres – Ashbourne, Bakewell, Matlock and Wirksworth – along with Matlock Bath

A decision will be made by councillors at a meeting on Thursday, July 8.

Income from parking is used for maintenance of the car parks, the district’s public gardens, open spaces and play areas, along with other services.It is one of very few income sources left for local councils, which it uses to prop up other essential services.

Mr Wilson writes in a report: “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the three national lockdowns on the Derbyshire Dales has been widespread and ongoing.“In the Derbyshire Dales, it has affected jobs, health, incomes, communities, environment, public services and more.

“Despite the plethora of financial support packages that have been put in place by the district council to support businesses, it is likely that many businesses will not survive and if they do, it is likely to be some considerable time before they will recover to their pre-March 2020 state, if at all.

“Irrespective of the level of car parking charges, the national restructuring of the retail sector, influenced by the rise in online sales, means every town faces the challenges of declining high street spend and footfall.

“It is evident that Covid-19 has added to the existing challenges town centre businesses currently face.

“Social distancing measures may impact profitability and some customers, now accustomed to online purchasing and home delivery, may not return to high street retailers.

“In order to respond to this request, consideration has been given to a series of options for a ‘one-off’, short term incentive for the month of September, for all town centre car parks in each of our four market towns plus Matlock Bath, which would have the benefit of extending the summer season.”