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“Free” parking for Herne Bay

A free parking scheme could be launched in Herne Bay to compete with out-of-town shopping centres like Westwood Cross. Town boss Chris West wants businesses to refund parking tickets to people who spend £10 or more in their shops.

He hopes to convince at least 20 traders to sign up to the proposal, which he says could be introduced by the spring. He said:

“It would work by having the parking meters modified so they produced two tickets. One would be displayed in the car and the other would be redeemed at a participating retailer. I am going to try and get businesses to support this by asking them to refund up to two hours parking providing a customer spends £10 or more in their shop. A sign will be displayed on the meters with a list of participating businesses and each shop will have a window sticker. To make it work I estimate I’ll need around 20 businesses to participate.”

A letter will be sent to all businesses in the town this week asking them to support the scheme, the brainwave of Roger’s Menswear owner Tony Symonds. He said:

“I had this idea a few years ago. One of the biggest concerns people shopping in the town have is paying for parking. This scheme would put us on a level playing field with the out-of-town shopping centres. Businesses can set their own limits on how much customers have to spend and put it down as a business expense, so it becomes tax-deductible. We make money, the council makes money and the shoppers save money. It would also put Herne Bay in the unique position of being the first town in the area to offer a free parking scheme like this.

Council spokesman Steve James said:

“There would be cost implications because we would have to update the software in our meters and put new tickets in them. We would want as little cost as possible to be passed on to the council tax payer. Theoretically it should be  fine – we are just looking into it.”

kentonline 5th Jan 2012

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