TRADERS in Matlock are being urged to combat unpopular parking charges by offering to refund customers who spend at their shop.
Business owners in the town will be encouraged to adopt the scheme as an incentive to attract more shoppers.
The idea was just one considered during a meeting on Monday evening between local tradespeople, arranged through an open invitation on social media website, Facebook.
Instigated by Danielle Barker, who runs Bellissima jewellery shop on Dale Road, around 20 people were at the Peli Deli delicatessen on Crown Square.
A second idea was to orchestrate a loyalty scheme between shops for regular customers, perhaps offering a ten per cent discount.
But with car parking charges provoking so much debate, there are hopes a refund policy will keep shoppers coming back.
Danielle said: “There were 270,000 parking tickets bought in the Matlock area last year, and at nearly £2 each that’s over £500,000 so there’s little chance that the council would reduce that.
“Parking is a huge problem, and we could all write to the council but it would be a waste of time. Personally, I’m happy to do it but it may not work for everyone. I do hope that a lot of independent shops may follow suit.”
The scheme could see customers being refunded for two hours – £1.90 – if they spend over an amount determined by each shopkeeper.
Danielle was inspired to take action after reading a report by TV retail guru Mary Portas, who set out a 28-point plan to halt the decline of Britain high streets.
One was to implement a parking scheme, along with the top priority of launching a “Town Team” to provide a strategy and clear goals.
As a result, the group has adopted the name Matlock “Town Team” and are planning to meet monthly and is open to all traders working around Matlock.
Wirksworth-based Retail Inspector, Anna Brown, was at Monday’s gathering and was inspired by the ideas.
Retail Inspector Derbyshire is an independent support programme offering impartial advice to independent business owners.
Speaking about possible parking refunds, she said: “I support it, it’s very positive for a group of people to look at how they can relieve the burden of parking charges.
“Councils won’t drop charges so this group are thinking of a positive way.”
The next meeting is at 2010 cafe bar on Dale Road on February 27 at 5.30pm.