Traders welcome free Christmas parking for Beverley, Bridlington, Goole and Driffield
TRADERS have welcomed a decision to allow free parking in East Riding Council car parks in the run-up to Christmas.
For the fourth year running, the authority will switch off its pay and display machines at weekends so shoppers are free to spend at their leisure in places such as Beverley, Bridlington, Goole and Driffield.
The move will cost the council an estimated £30,000, but the money has been set aside in the budget.
Councillor Stephen Parnaby, leader of East Riding Council, said: "For the past three years, this initiative has helped to bring shoppers to the East Riding in the run-up to Christmas.
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"The council is still happy to promote schemes like this, which have a real and tangible benefit to local businesses."
The free parking will apply on the weekends of December 8-9, 15-16 and 22- 23.
All council car parks will be free from 8am on Saturday to 8am on Monday.
Businesses in Beverley are working hard to stave off the effects of the economic downturn.
The free parking is seen as a welcome boost that will help East Riding towns compete with other shopping destinations.
Out-of-town shopping parks, such Kingswood in Hull in particular, have the advantage of offering all-year-round free parking.
Phil Scaife, who runs De Lacy Spa with his wife Kerris in Beverley's Saturday Market, said: "This is the council helping out the traders and we welcome it.
"Once we get people to come to Beverley, they will spend money and that will benefit all of us.
"It's getting harder and harder. Beverley is attracting larger names and that means landlords are able to ask for more money, which independent shops often can't afford."
But independent shops are fighting back.
A shopping trail has been set up so people know where to find the smaller, unique shops Beverley has to offer.
The Chamber of Trade is keen to promote Beverley as a destination to visit because of its architecture and history, as well as shops and services such as salons and spas.
Its work has been a success. Beverley has many fewer shops than other places in Yorkshire and the Humber.
In North Bar, traders have been awarded £10,000 to help them launch a Georgian Quarter and boost the profile of the area.
Led by David Bird, of Carol Bird Interiors, they also won a fight to have parking charges altered in that area of town all year round.
Mr Bird, a member of Beverley and District Chamber of Trade, said: "The free Christmas parking is a good, positive step to encourage visitors to Beverley.
"The advantage in Beverley is all the car parks are council-owned.
"That means they will all be free, whereas they won't be in other places.
"Christmas can make or break the whole year for some retailers.
"If people have the opportunity for free parking in Beverley, that may encourage them."
Hull City Council is not introducing free weekend parking in the run-up to Christmas but parking is already free on Sundays in council-run car parks, other than multi-storey ones.