Rugby Borough Council to look at covering cost of free parking in town

Rugby Town Hall
Rugby Town Hall

Free parking could be offered in council-run car parks in Rugby if the borough council can find a way to cover the financial loss, according to the authority.

Cllr Craig Humphrey, leader of Rugby Borough Council,said that although evidence suggests that shoppers don’t always take advantage of free car parking in the town centre, he is willing to see if the cost could be covered elsewhere.

Cllr Humphrey said: “All the evidence suggests that it is availability of convenient parking spaces, not price, that determines where shoppers park.

“Rugby already has some of the cheapest parking in the area, but last year we ran a promotion offering free parking in council car parks.

“Despite extensive publicity these car parks remained mostly empty whilst the most expensive, privately run car parks in town were full.

“Also, many shoppers choose to queue to park at Asda, while the cheaper, council-run Westway car park on the other side of the road has plenty of spaces available.”

Cllr Humphrey said that despite this the council will look into reducing or removing car parking charges.

He said: “However, I do recognise that a lot of people instinctively support the idea of free parking.

“If we can find a way of covering the financial loss that free parking would entail, without cutting services or putting up council tax, then I’d be happy to reduce or remove car parking charges in council-run car parks.”

Rugby Borough Council runs a total of 11 long and short stay car parks across the town.

Recent figures released by the RAC Foundation showed that the borough council made nearly £400,000 from parking charges in 2011/2012.

In November last year RBC launched its biggest ever free parking offer.

The free parking scheme - from 3pm each day in all council car parks - ran throughout November and December in the hope that it would be boost Christmas shopping.

Ian Davis, executive director at the borough council, confirmed this week that there would be free parking again at times in the town in the run up to Christmas this year.

Speaking recently about the proposed pedestrianisation scheme which would see parts of North Street closed to traffic, Trevor Scott, managing director at Rugby Fitted Kitchens Ltd, said: “If you really want to regenerate the town centre then we should be encouraging car-based shoppers with more free parking, such as in Daventry, and not enforcing their bypassing of the town centre with this ludicrous and half baked partial pedestrianisation scheme.”

Other Advertiser readers have suggested that parking should be free in the town for the first hour, while others suggested it should be free for 15 minutes to help boost trade in the independent quarter.

Other retailers, including Helen Blamires at Vanilla Lifestyle in Albert Street, have campaigned for free parking across the whole town.

The borough council said it will now look into ways it could cover the financial loss.