The decision of Redcar and Cleveland Council’s controlling Independent and Liberal Democrat group to reduce free Christmas parking in Redcar and Guisborugh town centres has already had quite a negative reaction from the public. The usual scheme that was ran by the previous Labour administration, was to introduce free parking from the 6th of November through to January the 7th. Under the new free parking scheme the free parking will only be available from the 1st of December through to the 31st of December, seeing a reduction of around 4 weeks.
Local business owners turned to social media to show their displeasure with the decision. Local independent optician owner John Chapman of Blink Eye Wear said, “What you may find once word gets round about this there’s going to be a fair old backlash from traders and general public. As a business owner in the town who like others are surviving month by month and not just in Redcar but all across towns in Redcar and Cleveland. Reducing it by such a length in my eyes is a very disappointing indeed .Christmas spirit and all that ,I’ve spent the last 2 years involved with the Primrose bell market trying to get people to come into town using my own FREE time and money putting monthly events on. I recommend you take this back to the table and reconsider this decision.”
Emma Jenkins, co owner of a newly opened independent organic shop said, “This is a very bad decision. This is not supporting local business this is hindering it. They need to rethink this, if they are going to support local business they need to do it properly. I’d even go as far to say the free parking should start earlier than 1pm too, especially over the weekend.
They need to make shopping in Redcar more accessible to the public especially over these months running up to and soon after the festive period. I just don’t understand this decision at all. Ridiculous in my opinion”
Along with angry business owners, Councillors from the previous controlling administration and now opposition Councillors had this to say.
Councillor Alec Brown, Former Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and lead member for 2016 to 2018 free Christmas parking initiative said:
“I am truly gobsmacked that this Lib Dem/Independent administration has decided to cut 4 weeks from our towns free Christmas parking and undone another Labour initiative. How can they seriously package this up as good news! I urge the administration to reconsider this decision immediately because the businesses are reliant on and expecting free parking to begin now.
“During, my time as Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, I understood that our local businesses needed as much support as I could offer them in my role. The Christmas period is imperative to our local economy and to our local independent businesses who are fighting to survive throughout the winter. The run up to Christmas from November onwards can be really tough because of competition outside the borough and online. As an authority we must do all we can to stimulate footfall and offering free parking is a small way we can help.”
Guisborough Cllr Shelagh Holyoake said, “Why have they done this? This has been such a successful scheme and has increased footfall and revenue. Taking this away will hit like a punishment. This has not been announced but the expectation is there. I’m expecting a backlash”.