Updated: Sunday, 17th February 2019 @ 6:14am

Free car parking for good? Oldham town centre scheme could continue after successful pilot boosts footfall

Free car parking for good? Oldham town centre scheme could continue after successful pilot boosts footfall

By Bethany Armitage

Free parking could soon be permanent in Oldham town centre after a successful pilot project.

A three-month scheme to boost footfall and trade comes to an end on Friday April 5, which has seen town centre car park use increase by 31 percent.

Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Town Centre, said the response to the pilot has been extremely positive.

“We’ve had excellent feedback from businesses and shoppers during this three-month free parking pilot and now need to decide what our future offer will be,” he explained.

Councillor Akhtar added that the scheme would cost the council around £244,000 above its existing budget over the next year.

“However, as a Co-operative Council we must consider our leadership role in the local economy,” he said.

 “Working with partners, we will do our bit to help Oldham town centre continue to prosper.”

This is especially important during the on-going Metrolink line roadworks, which have affected parking.

The pilot gave motorists two hours of free ‘off-street’ parking at council-owned car parks in the centre and 30 minutes of free on-street parking in pay and display bays.

Despite national retailers reporting decreases in year-on-year sales in 2011 and 2012, Oldham retailers confirmed sales had risen by between two and four percent in early 2013.

An increase in the number of transactions made and footfall was also reported, according to council figures.

A report on the proposed free parking scheme for the next year will be considered on Monday March 25 evening and recommends continuing the pilot system.

It also suggests increasing maximum stay on Tommyfield and Clegg Street car parks from two to three hours and maintaining free all-day car parking at Hobson Street on weekends.

Picture courtesy of cosmic_spanner, via Flickr, with thanks.

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