Traders unite to petition for free on-street parking to revive town centre trade

A group of Stafford businesspeople are calling for the return of free parking to halt a decline in trade in the town centre.

Over 120 retailers have signed a petition called for free parking in Stafford Town Centre. From left: Mike Smith (chief executive of Stafford Railway Building Society) and Councillor Jonathan Price
Over 120 retailers have signed a petition called for free parking in Stafford Town Centre. From left: Mike Smith (chief executive of Stafford Railway Building Society) and Councillor Jonathan Price

More than 120 retailers have signed a petition asking the council for the return of free one-hour parking in the streets around the town centre.

The group say they have identified 84 spaces which could be used to implement the change.

Dee Mellor, owner of Salter Street Toys and Models, said: "Our customers tell us they want to support the local independent shops, but parking restrictions make this difficult.

"There is little free on-street parking, and what exists is limited to 20 or 30 minutes. Additional free spaces will have an immediate impact and provide a vital boost for town centre shops."

Traders in the town centre say footfall has hit an all-time low and the change in the retail landscape has been accelerated by the pandemic.

However, with thousands of new homes being built around Stafford, the retailers believe that there is an opportunity for the town centre to become an exciting hub for shopping and leisure.

They believe the time has come to make a strategic change to put convenient access at the heart of the town centre regeneration plan.

Michelle Hall, assistant manager of Clintons, said: "If you want to buy a greeting card, it’s easier to park outside Tesco for free, rather than spend £1.10 on parking and walk into the high street.

"We need to open up the town centre to make it just as convenient to shop in town as it is at retail parks and supermarkets. If we can increase footfall it will encourage new shops to open."

Tim Sandy, owner of the Grove Coffee House, added: "Supermarkets and retail parks thrive on the convenience of free parking, we want to level the playing field.

"Not every shopper wants to spend the day in town and offering free short-stay parking will allow us to compete for this vital pop-in trade."

Terry Cope, landlord of the Bird in Hand Public House, thinks that ending the restriction at 6pm would benefit evening trade for restaurants, cinemas, theatres and bars.

Representatives of the traders presented their petition to Councillor Jonathan Price in the Market Square.

He said: "We are still finding numbers haven't recovered since the pandemic.

"Traders feel the free one hour would help support their businesses.

"I will support anything the town centre wants to do to increase footfall."

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News