Uk news Council comes under pressure to reintroduce free parking in Paisley MetiNews.Com
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Breaking News ! Paisley's business improvement district (BID) is calling on council chiefs to reintroduce free parking in the town centre after charges returned across Renfrewshire last month. Renfrewshire Council is proposing to extend the Free for Three pilot - which gives people three hours of free parking at six town centre sites - for another six months, with elected members due to deliberate on the plans at Wednesday's meeting of the leadership board. The scheme - originally devised by BID Paisley First - was launched last July and was handed a six-month extension in February to allow a full calendar year of data about its impact on the town centre to be collated. But with the Covid-19 pandemic causing a national lockdown in March, Paisley First has been unable to assess the true effect of the initiative. The council said the restart of the pilot will allow that data to be gathered again, but Paisley First is now calling on bosses to either reintroduce free parking or roll-out Free for Three across more sites - insisting another extension to the existing scheme will not be enough to help businesses survive. The BID has suggested one of these options should be put in place by council chiefs at on and off-street sites until March 2021, with unlimited free parking offered throughout December if they chose to use Free for Three at other sites. Free parking was introduced at all council car parks on March 27, but charges returned on August 17. Colette Cardosi, chair of Paisley First, said the town was being "unfairly penalised" with free parking on offer in Johnstone and Renfrew, and urged the council to take decisive action. She said: "It was clear to see free parking encouraged people to shop in the town centre as businesses started to reopen from the end of June. Since charges were reintroduced in the town centre in August, footfall has dropped sharply again. “We have always accepted a blanket free pass for parking may be abused by those commuting elsewhere.
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“To simply extend the pilot scheme is no longer an option. Johnstone and Renfrew both offer free parking; why should Paisley town centre continue to be unfairly penalised in this way? “We are calling on Renfrewshire Council to consider two alternative options for parking in the town during these challenging times. “This is a critical time for Scotland’s town centres and high streets, and this is a time to be bold. Decisive action must be taken as a matter of urgency.” The first six months of the Free for Three pilot led to a dramatic increase in people using the selected car parks in Orchard Street, Weighhouse Close, Hunter Street, Oakshaw and School Wynd. There was a 56 per cent rise in transactions recorded during the trial compared with the same period in 2018 and there was a four per cent decrease in transactions at the council’s non-pilot car parks. A council spokesman said: “Offering unlimited free parking or extending the three hours of free parking to other locations is not as straightforward as it sounds – this would have a number of financial and logistical implications, including the installation of new meters, which is why we need to be able to fully evaluate the impact of the current scheme to make sure our next steps are well-informed ones. “We understand the impact of the pandemic on town centre trade and the council is doing all it can to support businesses through that. “In the meantime we will continue to work with Paisley First and other groups represented on the Paisley Town Centre Parking Working Group to find the best way ahead for all concerned.”
Source = MetiNews.Com