TRADERS worried that parking problems are turning Spalding into a ghost town should open in the evenings and on Sundays to lure shoppers in.
After a number of shopkeepers welcomed a campaign by the Government to give greater freedom to councils to reduce parking charges and “put town centres first”, a councillor says he believes that is not the answer and shops need to be more flexible.
Coun Gary Taylor, who is South Holland district councillor for the town centre ward, says he would be willing to look at parking charges if necessary, but shops could do much more to help themselves.
He said traders should overcome shoppers’ reluctance to pay for parking by opening when charges are not in force, such as later in the evening.
He said: “I don’t mind looking at parking charges but there is free parking in the evenings and yet many of the shops close at about 4.30pm.
“Traders need to be more flexible on opening hours, such as Sunday afternoons. If they can open up and make the town a family-friendly place, particularly in the summer months, people will come in to shop.
“They need to provide what shoppers want.”
And he said recent moves to rid the town centre of anti-social behaviour had helped make the town centre a more welcoming place.
He said: “Spalding is not a ghost town and we need to promote the positive aspects and continue to make it more attractive to shoppers.”
South Holland District Counil portfolio holder for planning, markets and car parks, Coun Roger Gambba-Jones urged businesses to come forward with suggestions which would support the town centre, but said the current charging policy is based on ensuring the town’s car parks “pay their way” in respect of monitoring and maintenance.
He said: “The council is keen to support town centre businesses and will always look at ideas that help in this goal.
“We do not seek to take advantage of drivers by charging excessive parking fees. Historical research suggests that drivers are not discouraged from shopping in Spalding by our current charges, but we will continue to monitor this.”