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Free parking fails to pull crowds says Brighton and Hove City Council
Council bosses claim the city’s free festive parking cost taxpayers thousands of pounds – yet few took advantage of the scheme.
Shoppers in Brighton and Hove were treated to free parking at five council-owned car parks on the weekends of December 7 and 8, 14 and 15 and Sunday, December 23.
The decision followed a city council meeting in November, where local traders and campaigners said the move would boost business.
But town hall chiefs now say the move attracted just 206 extra vehicles in the first two weekends and lost taxpayers at least £32,000 in takings.
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The five car parks were Norton Road, Hove, and Brighton’s Trafalgar Street, High Street, London Road and Regency Square.
Brighton and Hove City Council said The Lanes car park, which has not been free, saw a large jump in numbers on the weekend of December 14 and 15.
It added that figures released covering the first two weekends show the scheme made “little if any impact”.
Figures are not yet available for last Sunday, December 23.
A council spokesman said: “Compared to numbers recorded on Saturday, November 30, and Sunday, December 1, when drivers had to pay, on December 7, London Road attracted 236 fewer cars than when drivers had to pay the previous Saturday.
It made modest gains of 32 cars and 89 cars on the first two free Sundays.
“Regency Square gained 32 cars on the first free Saturday followed by 25 on the first Sunday.
“Figures jumped on Sunday 15 by 308 cars.
“Trafalgar Street gained 68 cars on the first Saturday and 82 on the Sunday. It then dropped by 191 cars on Sunday 15.”
Council leader Jason Kitcat said he was pleased to hear shops were “doing well”, but said it wasn’t because of free parking as “so few took advantage”.
He said: “It’s more likely to be because of decent bus services as they have more passengers than ever.
“At a time of such financial shortage for councils, this seems like a terrible waste of money which has had little or no effect – certainly not an effect people can measure or prove.
“We need to get across the message that parking is only one variable dictating the success of local businesses. Compared to many places Brighton and Hove’s retail sector is hugely successful – because it is very good. We do not need to give away free parking.”
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