Coun­cil­lor’s plea for cheaper car parks to help town

Burton Mail - - News - By JENNY MOODY jen­nifer.moody@reach­ @Jen­ny_­moody85

CALLS have been made for cheaper town cen­tre parking as busi­nesses are on their knees fol­low­ing the lock­down.

David Brookes, who sits on Stafford­shire County Coun­cil, is call­ing for a re­view of parking charges in Ut­tox­eter as he be­lieves it is putting peo­ple off vis­it­ing.

Parking at East Stafford­shire Bor­ough Coun­cil car parks costs the same as in Bur­ton, but Coun­cil­lor Brookes ar­gues that the two towns have very dif­fer­ent of­fer­ings.

He adds that many peo­ple just “pop” into Ut­tox­eter, but do not want to pay for two hours’ parking for a short trip.

There are also re­tail parks on the edge of the town which of­fer free parking, which many peo­ple pre­fer to take ad­van­tage of rather than go­ing into the cen­tre.

The coun­cil­lor said: “The economy of the two towns is very dif­fer­ent and, un­for­tu­nately, while Ut­tox­eter is a wider ru­ral area, it hasn’t got the na­tional shops that Bur­ton en­joys. It’s more to park in Ut­tox­eter than in Han­ley, in Stoke. I’m aghast by it.

“As we come out of Covid, many busi­nesses have strug­gled to re­open and they are all on their knees.

“I recog­nise that car parks cost money to op­er­ate but there has to be a de­gree of cau­tion. I ac­cept it needs to find ways to man­age its in­come and this is one way but to charge for parking in Ut­tox­eter the same as Bur­ton is wrong.

“Peo­ple just pop into town quickly and then do their bits and leave. That’s what hap­pens in a mar­ket town.

“We are very for­tu­nate in our re­tail of­fer­ing in the town. It gives me great con­cern. I’ve a pas­sion for Ut­tox­eter as it is the town where I was brought up.

“I re­ally want to know why they haven’t spread this so it works for

Ut­tox­eter. Ut­tox­eter is a great town and so is Bur­ton, but they are quite dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.”

He is now call­ing for a parking re­view to be launched in Ut­tox­eter, say­ing the work needs to be done in the town cen­tre to fill the empty re­tail units to en­tice shop­pers in for longer.

How­ever, East Stafford­shire Bor­ough Coun­cil has pointed out there has been sup­port avail­able for busi­nesses through the lock­down and Ut­tox­eter does have a free car park just out­side the town cen­tre.

Coun­cil­lor Bernard Peters, East Stafford­shire Bor­ough Coun­cil’s deputy leader for reg­u­la­tory and com­mu­nity sup­port, said: “The coun­cil has al­ways ap­plied car parking charges uni­ver­sally and con­sis­tently across the en­tire bor­ough and charges are de­signed to en­cour­age longer stays so that users visit more busi­nesses; in turn boost­ing the lo­cal economy.

“The re­cently launched parking app pro­vides greater flex­i­bil­ity to users in how they pay for their parking.

“Shop­pers in our town cen­tres can top up their parking pay­ment with­out hav­ing to leave the shops.

“Parking charges al­ready pro­vide ex­cel­lent value when com­bined with the on­go­ing free af­ter 3pm of­fer. Vis­i­tors can park for just £1.40 from 1pm in the ma­jor­ity of Ut­tox­eter car parks.

“In ad­di­tion, Ut­tox­eter has East Stafford­shire’s only to­tally free car park at Fair­field Road and other free street parking is avail­able in and ad­ja­cent to the town cen­tre. “Those wish­ing to ‘pop’ into the town can utilise the free af­ter 3 of­fer or Fair­field Road and not in­cur any charge. “Through­out the Covid-19 pan­demic, the coun­cil has sup­ported lo­cal busi­nesses with over £20 mil­lion in grant sup­port.

“Re­tail dis­count re­lief, to­talling £18.9 mil­lion, has been ap­plied to shops across the bor­ough mean­ing that 722 re­tail busi­nesses will pay no busi­ness rates this year, di­rectly sup­port­ing our High Streets. Over re­cent weeks the coun­cil has worked to en­sure that our high streets and key shop­ping ar­eas across the bor­ough are safe to be open.”

As we come out of Covid, many busi­nesses have strug­gled to re­open and they are all on their knees.

An empty-look­ing Malt­ings car park in Ut­tox­eter. In­set, Coun­cil­lor David Brookes Cllr David Brookes

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