Free Christmas car parking could return

Free parking should return to Harborough this Christmas, says Cllr Blake Pain
Free parking should return to Harborough this Christmas, says Cllr Blake Pain

Free parking days should return to Harborough and Lutterworth in the run-up to Christmas.

That is the opinion of Cllr Blake Pain, leader of Harborough District Council.

He said: “Last year we had three free parking Saturdays leading up to Christmas, and they brought a real feelgood factor to the area.

“In principle, I’d like to do something similar this year, but we’ll have to have a closer look to see which days suit everybody the best.

“While we are always looking for ways to support local businesses and invest in the community as we did in the run up to last Christmas, we need to be sure that these decisions and incentives are based on sound business principles.”

Cllr Pain added that he would be keen to liaise with the town’s chamber of trade to explore ideas “as we continue to review our overall parking strategy”.

New chamber of trade president Ian Joule said: “We are doing very well as a town, and targeted free car parking could be part of the package that brings people into Harborough.”

And his new vice-president Alistair Campbell added: “We welcome the positive move from Cllr Pain.”

Harborough District Council is currently reviewing its overall parking strategy.

District retailers contacted by the Mail had a variety of ideas about how parking in the area could be improved.

“I’d like to see free car parking,” said Alex Toon, owner of greengrocers Frutas, on High Street, Harborough, and Church Street, Lutterworth.

“It should be free to compete with out-of-town stores.”

Manish Vaitha of County Crafts on the High Street, Harborough, said: “My first request would be that parking is free. But if that’s not practical, my next request would be for people to pay car parking charges on exit, so they don’t feel they have to rush back to their car because the time has run out, and could relax and spend more time in the town.”

Keira Shannon, manager at Halo jewellers on the High Street, said: “My request would be that Harborough’s smaller car parks are better maintained.

“I park in one of the smaller ones, and there’s broken glass everywhere, no street lighting, no gritting in winter and the machine never takes all your coins.

Tim Thornton, owner of Thornton’s jewellers, said: “I’d like to see more ‘drop-in’ spaces, where people can park for free for 30 minutes.

“I wouldn’t want to see increased parking charges.”

Cllr Pain added: “The Harborough district local economy has been extremely resilient in the economic downturn in the last five years.

“Our car parking strategy needs to help us build on that.”