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Blackburn announces free parking scheme to draw in shoppers

5th July 2012

Categories: Town Centre News

Blackburn with Darwen Council has pledged its commitment to town centre traders by announcing free parking on Saturdays.

The scheme will come into force this Saturday (July 7) and see charges waived at all Council owned car parks.

The move follows the recommendations of retail guru Mary Portas who says free parking is one of the best ways to boost high street trade.

Blackburn is the first town of its size in the country to take such a bold step in a bid to support shops and market stall holders.

The plan will see around 1,200 free spaces offered including those at Feilden Street, Waves' carpark and Starkie Street.

It takes into consideration the views of over half of the town centre businesses, who when asked, told the Council that parking fees were a weak spot for Blackburn.

Figures show that the town centre is still popular with shoppers despite the economic climate and it is holding its own, particularly against other similar sized towns.

It is intended that promotions like the free parking initiative will maintain this trend and as well as boosting high street names will support independents who find it harder to compete.

It also is hoped that the move will draw in shoppers from other areas and it will boost the Open for Business campaign encouraging residents to shop locally. 

Executive member for Regeneration, Councillor Dave Harling, said: "Our traders were telling us that this was something that they wanted to see introduced and we are committed to supporting local businesses so this was something we decided to take forward.

"We are very proud of the new market and the redevelopment of the shopping centre and we know that Blackburn is already a popular shopping destination.

"This new scheme will allow us to build on that and make the town centre even more attractive to shoppers."

Blackburn businessman, Phil Ainsworth, said: "This is something that is very welcome and the fact that the Council have looked into the parking issue and come forward with the decision to introduce free parking on a Saturday will benefit the town as a whole.

“Let’s hope once customers hear about it will take the opportunity to come into the Blackburn and see all the developments that are happening.”

Businessman, Mark Smith of the Exchange Coffee Company, said: "Like it or not parking or most importantly the cost of parking, is what makes our town centres barren and out of town free parking shopping centres busy."

"We have to appeal to these shoppers and make our town centres user friendly again."

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, said: "This is a brilliant initiative and hopefully it will attract even more shoppers to come to Blackburn's spectacular shopping facilities.”

Download a free parking map here

Download a list of free car parks here.

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