Ashfield District Council set to extend free car parking in Hucknall to boost town centre recovery
A plan to make Ashfield District Council’s town centre car parks free to visit is expected to be approved at a meeting next week.
When it meets on Tuesday, June 30, the council cabinet will consider a proposal to make the first two hours of parking free at 11 sites, including Market Place, Piggins Croft and Yorke Street in Hucknall.
The council had planned to make the change earlier in the year, but then decided to temporarily remove all parking charges to help residents and businesses through the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is hoped that the permanent arrangement will encourage more people into town centres to help with the economic recovery, together with a wider campaign on the benefits of shopping locally.
It is expected to cost the council around £25,000 this year, and around £42,000 next year in lost income.
A report on the issue prepared by council officers said: “It has become apparent that town centres will require additional support due to the short-term effects of the closure of non-essential retail from late March until June 15 and the longer-term effects caused by a potential acceleration of online shopping, the existing and predicted increases in unemployment and reduced consumer confidence and spending.
“During lockdown it has been reported nationally that local independent businesses which were able to remain open have seen a rise in sales and support from local communities. It is an ideal opportunity to build on this support through promoting a ‘shop local’ message.”
It adds: “Free parking promotions during the Christmas period have been very popular in the past two years and increasing the free period from one to two hours is likely to be very well received by traders and the public.
“Although the reduction in income will need to be offset elsewhere in the council’s budget, there is an urgent need to support town centres and businesses through a very challenging time and to provide longer-term incentives to attract people to the town centres.”
If approved, the new rules would come into force on September 7. Until then, all parking would continue to free. The scheme also includes four car parks in Kirkby and four in Sutton.