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Letter: Trader Calls For Free Parking Day In Wake Of Cycle Race

Published on: 24 Sep, 2013
Updated on: 24 Sep, 2013

From Ben Darnton of Ben’s Collector’s Records

On behalf of all the shopkeepers in Guildford, may I congratulate Sir Bradley Wiggins on his resounding victory in the round Britain bike race.

But whose decision was it to hold the race on a Saturday in central Guildford?

The town centre was closed off all day and effectively killed the busiest trading day for every shopkeeper I’ve spoken too!

Okay, so the cameras were on our lovely town so it might remind a few online customers that they can visit real shops rather than an online version from the comfort of their home, but why not put it through on Sunday like last year?

The only winner I can see was the borough council whose car parks  filled up with spectators then emptied out straight after the bikes rushed through.

Perhaps it would be a nice gesture to have a free parking day as a kind of apology to the shopkeepers and to give them something back?

Ben Darnton, Tunsgate, Guildford.

What do you think? Are we getting too many cycling events in and around Guildford? Or are they good for business? What about Ben’s idea of a free day of parking one Saturday?

If you have a comment please leave a reply in the box below.

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Responses to Letter: Trader Calls For Free Parking Day In Wake Of Cycle Race

  1. Herbie (Kevin Blackburn) Reply

    September 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Well, it may have been a quiet day for a lot of traders, and I concede that must have felt not good.

    However, 50,000 people found out what a lovely town Guildford is, and they spent many hours here, using the bars, pubs and cafés.

    Hundreds or thousands of people saw Guildford on TV, and may also decide – that looks a nice place to go.

    Lots of people stayed over and the whole entourage filled all the hotels for miles around – 180 cyclists, 2,000 journos, marshalls, race officials, team staff, and fans.

    In France the start/finish towns know that this one lost day brings in much needed fresh footfall to these towns, and they actually pay millions to host the races.

    I know a lot of people who came to Guildford for the first time when the Tour of Britain came on Saturday – they all live quite close but never normally come here – that is likely to change!

    Of course, if a few short-sighted people make them feel unwelcome and start petitions for no other reason than NIMBYism and dislike of several thousand questioning the tyranny of the motor car for a single day – well, you might just succeed in frightening them all away again!

    Statistics show in places like Manhattan, Amsterdam, Seattle, Utrecht, etc, that cyclists spend between 20% and 49% more in local shops than motorists.

    You encourage the right people and your one day of poor sales will be a great lost leader.

  2. Pete Leeming Reply

    September 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    I thought the cycle event was absolutely brilliant, enjoyed by thousands of spectators bringing people together out on the streets and was a fantastic showcase for Guildford and Surrey in general.

    It’s got to be a winner and I for one can’t wait until next year’s stage comes again

  3. Susan Turner Reply

    September 24, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Market Street was barricaded from 9.30am in readiness for the brief passage of the lead promotional cars at the head of the cyclists at 3.50pm.

    When I pointed out the total stupidity of such over planning they were removed, to little avail as the town was barely populated before early afternoon.

    The car parks had many spaces all day, unheard of normally.

    Our takings [Neal’s Remedies] were halved and our therapy rooms closed. Who wants a relaxing massage at a rowdy street festival? I want a rate rebate but the free parking day would help if we’ll broadcast.

  4. Brian Holt Reply

    September 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    If traders keep losing too many days takings it will lead to more small shops closing down.

    The only people who made money was GBC on car parks, the pubs and restuarants.

    Hundreds of local people had to give up their weekends off, most of them had no interest in a cycle race for this event to be held.

    For most of us in Guildford it meant a day at home unable to go anywhere.

    If people think that Saturday’s visitors will come back and spend money in the town, I very much doubt

    Where is the money coming from to pay all the council employees’ overtime?

  5. Jim Allen Reply

    September 28, 2013 at 12:43 am

    It is time to stop whingeing. These events generate community spirit, much needed in all town of any size everywhere. I still eat, drink, and wear clothes every day so I will still have the same consumer demands, regardless of a short period when the shops are not so accessible.

    I can recall carnivals when local traders dressed up their vehicles and drove in procession around the village/town to the ‘rec’ where the local fair was held. They had been going on for years my first was in 1964 and my last in the 1990’s, when we raised £3,000 for charity from the coins thrown on the float.

    They were all stopped when the police refused to allow slow moving processions through the villages because they held up the traffic. We are slowly getting back these days when the community comes out and says hi to their neighbours. We need more of them both local and national, then perhaps our communities will blossom and grow instead of becoming a ‘1984’ type hell hole comprising dormitories where people are frightened to speak to their neighbours just in case and their only friend is their iPad.

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