Mary Portas is almost correct about UK town city centre parking

There’s been a lot of exposure in the UK on Mary Portas, the spokesperson and champion of reinvigorating local high streets (see our past article ). This week we came across commentary by UK parking consultant Chris Wortley on the likelihood of councils abolishing paid parking on their high streets.

Acknowledging that this is highly unlikely, Wortley suggests that instead, towns and cities could explore a range of alternative measures to make parking more attractive:

  • Special parking offers for members of shopping centre VIP clubs
  • Off peak and premium pricing to encourage a spread of the hordes
  • Pricing based on popularity of arrival and departure – like the airports
  • Better car park lighting and security
  • Minimum standards – Parkmark car parks can charge more, but it has to be much harder to get Parkmark than it is today
  • Automated payment methods that bill you monthly
  • Discounts on shopping if you use the centre car park

Wortley concludes with some advice to local retailers and shopkeepers: don’t blame parking charges if your sales are down, but instead at those elements within their control: availability, findability, store navigation, choice & selection, ambiance, variety, and the right number of staff to make the shopping experience great. Not bad advice, we think. With regards to the parking advice given by Wortley above, they require a high level of technological support which most councils currently do not have (at least in Australia); we look forward to the time when retailers can work collaboratively with councils to achieve common goals rather than taking the usual antagonistic positions we see over and over again.


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