He is the “mattress king” with a commitment to a traditional town centre. She’s the “queen of shops” trying to revive the country’s high streets. Now Herne Bay’s Dylan Hampshire says town bosses need to take the words of Mary Portas to heart and make parking free across central shopping areas.
The Cockett’s Beds owner spoke out as councillors were set to debate sweeping changes to parking costs in the town; introducing a “linear” system like Canterbury, with set fees per hour. But campaigner Mr Hampshire said it was urgent that councillors and officers took Mary Portas’s recommendations seriously – not least introducing free parking. The retail guru recommends abolishing charges in all towns as part of an independent review into the nation’s high streets. He said:
“If we do this in Herne Bay all other towns across Kent will be watching to see how well it works. It will give us a real advantage. If you go to big out of town shopping centres you don’t have to pay for your parking. Almost all shopkeepers will tell you they’ve lost count of the amount of times people have come into their stores – then had to rush out again as their parking ticket ran out. If a trial scheme could be put in place by the summer the town would have a real head-start.”
But West Bay councillor and Canterbury City Council finance boss Peter Lee said free parking was not an option. He said:
“If we didn’t have the revenue from parking we would have to make increases in prices or cuts in services somewhere else. Herne Bay probably has more free on-street car parking than most other towns – remember that the seafront is free October to April.”
thisiskent 6th Jan 2012