Free parking has made no difference to high street

The suspension of short term parking charges in Biddulph has had “absolutely no impact” on footfall on the high street according to the town's mayor.
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council took the decision to waive parking charges for the first three hours in towns in the Moorlands throughout August to encourage residents to support local businesses as they reopened after lockdown.
But the results of a survey carried out by volunteers at Biddulph Town Council show that while there has been an increase in parking in some areas of the town, footfall has not been affected.
“Sadly, I have to report that while there has been an increase in cars parking on Wharf Road - not a massive one, about a 10% increase - there has been absolutely no impact on footfall on the high street at all,” said Independent councillor John Jones, the town's mayor.
He was one of a number of councillors who volunteered to monitor the local car parking spaces daily to establish whether the parking charge suspension had any effect on pedestrian traffic.
The volunteers took daily photos on High Street, John Street, King Street and Gunn Street over a six-week period, counting the number of cars in each picture and assessing the impact on the high street.
The town council's review was organised so that it would have evidence to argue for the continued suspension of parking charges if the scheme was stopped by the district council - but Coun Jones explained that the town did not get the results it was hoping for.
He said: “I was really hoping it would have some impact. The increase in parking is probably down to the fact that the people who would have parked at Sainsbury's are now parking for free over the road, going into the supermarket and then leaving.
“This is only a small sample of data in a survey that we did off our own backs. Further investigation is needed before there are any changes made to future policy.
“I am hoping to have a meeting with the leader of the district council, Sybil Ralphs this week to talk about whether the parking suspension can carry on for a longer period, so that we can get some more survey information.”