Shop owner calls for free parking to be brought back in Northampton town centre following successful Christmas trade

"I can tell you it definitely increased footfall. People were really grateful."

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 9:15 am

A Northampton shop owner and a councillor have called for a free parking scheme in the town to be brought back into 2022 in a bid to increase the high street's footfall.

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) chiefs offered free car parking at weekends in the run-up to Christmas in the hope to boost the number of shoppers heading to Northampton town centre.

More than 4,000 spaces in the 20 WNC-managed car parks in and around the town were free all day at weekends between November 20 and from 3pm on weekdays until January 1.

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Julie Teckman and her Vintage Guru business partner Matthew Lewis

Julie Teckman, owner at Vintage Guru in St Giles' Street, explained how the scheme helped her business.

She said: "I can tell you it definitely increased footfall. People were really grateful. Certainly at the weekends people were using it. Our customers took advantage of it and it made them a lot happier.

"We saw an increase in sales. It's difficult to know but part of that could be put down to parking. I would like to see it be brought back."

Councillor Julie Davenport, of the Far Cotton ward, who initially spearheaded the scheme, said she is pushing for it to make a return.

She said: "I would like it back. I'm still pushing for it. I'm still keen to increase the footfall in the town to help local businesses because they have been through such a dreadful time with Covid.

"I don't think it should be just for Christmas, it should be ongoing. I'm not saying it should be free all day every day but there needs to be a period of time each day that it's free.

"I just think it would be good to help families and people on low incomes to be able to just pop into town, too."

Mark Mullen, operations manager for Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID), said the scheme was appreciated by many businesses in the town.

He said: “The free parking over the festive period gave shoppers another compelling reason to visit our town centre and it was certainly appreciated by our retailers, who welcomed thousands of Christmas shoppers.

"We remain in positive discussions with WNC regarding future parking activities and we look forward to further conversations in due course.”

WNC was asked for its thoughts on how the scheme went and if it will remain.

WNC responded saying: "No decision to extend the free parking, so arrangements back to normal now.