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GBC Car Parking Charges To Be Reduced To Encourage Shoppers Into Town

Published on: 12 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 15 Nov, 2020

By Hugh Coakley

Guildford councillors voted last night (November 11) to reduce car parking charges and encourage shoppers to stay longer and “spend more money in the town.” The decision taken at the Executive Advisory Board will need to be ratified by the council’s Executive which meets next week.

Bedford Road car park will be one of the six town centre car parks, with an aggregate 4,000 spaces, to have the reduced charges under the shopper offer.

The proposals introduced a new £1 per hour shopper offer (minimum 3 hrs) from Monday to Saturday at the car parks in Bedford Road, York Road, The Castle, G-Live, Millbrook and Tunsgate. The reduced charges were planned to come into effect before Christmas.

CEO of Experience Guildford, Amanda Masters, said: “I am hoping it is a win-win for everyone, for the traders, the shoppers and for the council increasing their revenue if usage goes up.”

Other recommendations to the Executive included continuing with the proposed short stay car park price increase from £1.50 to £1.60 per hour but authorising council officers, in consultation with the relevant lead councillor and Director of Resource, to cancel the increase if it was affecting business recovery in town after Covid.

There was also a need for a “balance of supply” said Waste, Parking and Fleet Services manager, Chris Wheeler between short stay, shopper and commuter car parks. The Leapale Road car park was being reallocated as a short stay car park to cater for expected demand including for the increased use of “click and collect” in town shops.

Leapale Road car park is to be reallocated as short stay making 800 short stay spaces in the town

Chris Wheeler said that the shopper offer was intended to encourage visitors to “come in, enjoy and relax and to increase ‘dwell time’. If we can get people to stay longer, they will spend more money in the town.”

Amanda Masters said the biggest bugbear for traders was the car park charges. Footfall figures were indicating that the main users of the town centre now were Guildford residents but, she added: “Car parking is absolutely essential for the survival of our town centre and the high street retailers.”

Fiona White (Lib Dem, Westborough) said: “It’s sensible to encourage people to come in and stay longer.”

Maddie Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said: “It is a fantastic report. I’m glad we are supporting local traders. Good luck for Christmas everyone.”

The decision was made in the light of the warning by Tim Anderson (R4GV, Clandon & Horsley) of looming budgets cuts because of the loss of income and the increased costs due to Covid-19 (see As Council Cuts Loom, “Those affected are going to scream”).

Car parking has been providing almost a third of GBC’s income until Covid struck. Source GBC

Parking had been providing about a third of the council’s revenue prior to the pandemic. The report to the Executive Advisory Board had shown how this income stream was forecast to be cut in half, going from around £8 million in 2019-20 to a projected £4 million in 2020-21.

 

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test 4 Responses to GBC Car Parking Charges To Be Reduced To Encourage Shoppers Into Town

  1. Mike Murphy Reply

    November 13, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    It’s a bit late to reduce town parking when even before the pandemic the upper High Street was resembling a ghost town and the rest of the town beginning to look the same.

    Previous administrations put their heads in the sand and used parking as a cash cow, oblivious of the demise of town centre shopping. Does the GBC think these small reductions will get back all the trade that has been lost? Most people don’t even consider driving into the town and lockdown will certainly magnify this trend.

  2. Mark Tickner Reply

    November 13, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    How stupid.

    Trying to increase vehicle traffic into a town centre that has lane closures in place.

    Surely lowering the cost of Park & Ride and encouraging that usage is far better for shops as people have no fear of parking tickets by staying longer.

    We certainly spend more time in town when using Park & Ride over town centre parking.

  3. Martin Elliott Reply

    November 14, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    “It is a fantastic report.”

    I’m not sure that the 56-page Parking Business Plan 2021-22, being mainly statistics and financial information, the same format as every year, is “fantastic”.

    However some parts, such as options for change, could be considered pure speculation as there doesn’t seem to be any backing information.

    Where is the expertise in either the officers or councillors to know the real benefits likely from a shoppers parking scheme? What are the drawbacks? Is there a study spelling this out, along with the drawbacks for residents, and risks of a different outcome?

    We still remember the glorious failure of the last large marketing venture, The Village, which far from generating an income, lost the council £1.6m.

    Other aspects of the parking strategy receive a gloss based on dogma rather than real resident benefits.

    Data for the Park & Ride is given. Yet again the number of journeys drop (as previous years) by >10%.

    “With plans to redevelop the town centre, and limited scope for absorbing increased traffic flows and the potential demand for parking, the continued development of P&R is important.”

    Maybe so, but at the moment it absorbs all the on-street parking surplus (profit), and still twice as much again as a ‘top-up of >£400k.

    “To improve the financial position, Parking Services is looking at ways to reduce costs and increase revenue”.

    But all the listed future ‘opportunities’ are not really going to increase usage, without, yet again, increasing the cost of in-town parking which seems at odds with the main “options”.

  4. H Paton Reply

    November 15, 2020 at 1:06 am

    Nice to see some honest reporting by GBC here. The last two paragraphs are not the sort of admission we’re used to seeing in print. Nice that we can also benefit the struggling businesses as well as helping to fill the council’s coffers though.

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