City centre may feel the loss of 'pop-in shoppers'
DERBY traders could be excused the thought that they are not being done any favours on parking charges in recent weeks.
Increased fees for street parking and city council car parks are to be introduced during February.
They are being dressed up as being, overall, "in line with inflation", which is no doubt mathematically accurate.
But that obscures one significant – and mean – change.
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And that is the abolition of the one-hour charge in the authority's car parks from February 18.
Currently, anybody using the Assembly Rooms for less than an hour is charged £1.80.
Charges for less than an hour at most of the other council car parks also vary from between £1.60 to £1.80.
Now that band of fees is to disappear. At the Assembly Rooms, for example, the cheapest charge will become £3 for up to two hours; it will also be £3 at the Council House car park and £2.30 at Chapel Street.
The authority may well claim this is in line with what some other cities charge.
Nevertheless, it still could make a major impact on the shopping habits of lots of people.
Many of those who live or have jobs in the outlying suburbs regularly "pop into town" during the lunch break for some essential shopping.
They can be there and back within 45 minutes and do not particularly begrudge paying £1.60 for the privilege.
If that option disappears, so might they – to one of the big supermarkets away from the city centre which offer free parking.
It will be a no-brainer and can only accelerate the trend of shoppers, particularly for food, draining away from the city centre.
For every shopper looking to leisurely browse the fashion shops, there are rather more on a mission to get the daily essentials as quickly as possible.
The latest increases follow the Christmas period, when traders must still be wondering if the city missed a significant trick in not offering free parking as a ploy to draw more festive shoppers.
In Erewash, car parks were free, between 9.30am and 6pm, from December 14 to New Year's Day.
Amber Valley Borough council offered free use of pay and display car parks for more than a week.
In Derbyshire Dales, parking was free in all council pay and display car parks from 2pm to midnight throughout December.
In South Derbyshire, the district council has always had an admirable approach to providing free parking for shoppers anyway.
When times are tough, parking charges are far from a negligible consideration for shoppers.
They need to be made to feel more welcome than Derby is doing at the moment – especially when the long-term roadworks factor is also considered.