Big brands urged to back parking scheme

L02711H14''Littlehampton Parking Disk Simon Vickers of Arun Furnishers with parking disks
L02711H14''Littlehampton Parking Disk Simon Vickers of Arun Furnishers with parking disks

BUSINESS figures have made a new year’s resolution to attract more national brands to support a town’s free parking scheme.

Littlehampton’s parking disc initiative allows visitors to park in a number of town centre car parks at no charge for the first two hours.

It is funded by Arun District Council and voluntary contributions by traders, but only a third of retailers currently do so.

Now, recently appointed town centre regeneration officer John Edjvet and Littlehampton Traders’ Partnership chairman Simon Vickers want to attract more of the multi-nationals to contribute.

Mr Edjvet said: “I did a snapshot of St Martin’s car park recently, and 70 per cent of cars had free parking discs. So, while it is difficult to put a figure on, clearly it has a massive impact.

“If you have that kind of percentage of cars with them, it has to be having a positive effect.”

The majority of retailers already supporting the scheme are independents, but Sainsbury’s has been a long-term supporter.

A recent breakthrough on the national scene has seen Barclays get on board, and Mr Vickers hoped more would follow suit.

He said: “There is no fee involved in becoming a part of the partnership, so there is no obligation to contribute.

“We would like to get more businesses on board as we have to raise a substantial sum each year to continue it.

“We are not having a dig at those that don’t. Often with the nationals, decision-making processes might not be local and can get lost in the system.”

Worthing town centre manager Sharon Clarke said a similar scheme may not be as beneficial to Worthing town centre when the car parks are taken back into council hands in April.

She said: “I am unsure if free parking actually works, as when you have a good retail offer, people tend to not mind paying reasonable costs for parking.

“I think it could be looked at for certain days or special offers, but the council’s latest plan to reduce charges to a pound an hour will be more beneficial to Worthing and is a reasonable charge.”