Local authorities urged to look at Rochdale’s free parking offer to help struggling high streets
Date published: 05 September 2019
Rochdale is the only local authority in the region to offer free parking for three hours
Local authorities in Greater Manchester are being urged to revaluate what they charge for car parking to help ease the pain of high street retailers – and look at Rochdale’s model of three hours’ parking for free.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) carried out research into the price of parking in town centre across the region, which revealed a confusing array of prices, no two authorities using the same model, and a vast difference in cost from authority to authority.
Rochdale is the only local authority in the region to offer free parking for three hours, the time required for a proper visit to do shopping and/or to visit leisure facilities.
In contrast, Salford charged £3.50 for the same period of time.
FSB Chair in Greater Manchester, Phil Thompson said: “The time has come for councils to do more to help their own high streets, and taking a fresh look at car parking prices and the pricing models used would be a welcome start on the road to recovery.
“For many people paying to park is just not an affordable option, and all too often shoppers will vote with their feet.
“Authorities know charging to park adversely affects footfall, which is why most offer some type of free car parking initiative at Christmas, but why stop there? I urge them to look at places like Rochdale where the first three hours of parking is free, or Wigan and Bury where there is free weekend parking. These kinds of models need to be tried and tested elsewhere in Greater Manchester.
“Retailers rely on footfall and we need to make our town centres places where shoppers want to go to spend some time and spend their cash.
“I believe car parking is key to that, but retailers need action sooner rather than later.”
A spokesperson for Rochdale Borough Council, said: “It’s great to see that our efforts to support town centre businesses during our regeneration programme have been recognised by the FSB.”
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