I AM pleased that, four years after I started asking for Canterbury council to look at parking issues in Herne Bay, they are finally starting to think about it. The truth is that parking is a vital issue at the heart of the wellbeing of any town’s retail and visitor experience. The council’s response was “we need the money” and “high parking fees just does not affect footfall”, which is totally wrong-headed. It is illegal to use on-street parking fees and charges for anything other than parking. Bluewater and Westwood Cross shopping centres, and other out-of-town supermarkets, will never charge for parking. Why? Because it would put off their customers. Until councils realise the link between retail and parking and implement beneficial changes, our towns are going to struggle to compete with out-of-town centres.
What is the answer?
Four years ago I called for free parking to help Herne Bay. While this may be unrealistic, I am certain that a friendly parking policy can be adopted that will be marketable and attractive to visitors. I can only hope that coundillors Peter Vickery Jones and Andrew Cook will listen and have the wisdom to see sense if it is offered. Maybe there is hope and I urge people to make their thoughts on parking known to our councillors.
Dylan Hampshire (High Street ohop owner)
Herne Bay Times, December 10th 2014