Parking plan to help traders fight back

Council examines pay-on-exit parking as traders file 1,000-signature supermarket petition.

NORTH Devon Council is re-examining the possibility of creating pay-on-exit car parks in a bid to encourage more people to shop in Barnstaple town centre.

Studies to look at alternative parking payment have proved unsuccessful in the past but the Gazette has learned that new discussions have taken place to revisit the idea.

Pay-on-exit parking, particularly for the Cattle Market Car Park, is being seen as a way of helping the town centre to “level the playing field” with out-of-town supermarkets, most of which provide at least two hours’ free car parking for customers.

High Street traders are pleading for parity and on Friday, they filed a 1,000-signature supermarket petition, imploring the council to block any future developments in the town.

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Council leader Brian Greenslade said that the council was looking at town centre parking as a “priority” and that informal talks with representatives from BID Barnstaple had already taken place.

He said a number of incentive schemes – including the possibility of an initial period of free parking – were being examined.

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He said: “It’s all part of what we’ve taken away and are looking at; the feeling is that car parking would be so much better if it was pay-on-exit and we are looking to see what we can do with the situation.

“It will obviously require some investment and that won’t be easy but we have arranged to meet with BID Barnstaple again having done some more work on it.

“It won’t happen immediately as we have a very tight capital programme but if we are able to raise some more capital receipts we would see the work as a priority.”

Mr Greenslade said that the council saw car parking as channel for economic regeneration across the district.

“By offering shoppers free parking periods during the run-up to Christmas the council has already shown it will do whatever is in its grasp to support traders not just in Barnstaple, but throughout North Devon,” he said.

“We have recently agreed to stop evening charges at Ilfracombe and there is a proposal in the capital programme for 2012/13 to take away old sheep pens in South Molton and create nearly 100 additional car parking spaces in the Central car parking area.”

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