Congleton Town Council and Congleton’s Traders Group has been given a clear steer by local people on the changes that they would like to see to make parking policies more attractive for businesses in Congleton town centre. More than 80% of the 424 people who responded to a questionnaire by the Town Council and Traders group agreed or strongly agreed that reduced charges would encourage them to come into town more frequently. The Town Council and Congleton Traders group ran an on-line survey for 17 days following the announcement from Cheshire East that it was looking to make changes to parking charges in order to help town centre businesses – focussing on Macclesfield, Crewe, Nantwich, Knutsford and Congleton. Key findings from the Congleton survey are:
- Half the respondents come into the town at least once a week
- 74% had been put off of shopping in Congleton due to parking charges, 20% said charges had no impact on them and 3% said parking charges had meant that they are more likely to come into town.
- Only 30% always pay for parking when coming into town to shop
- 88% believed that offering two hours free parking would help business in town. (68% thought it would help if all car parks were free after three and 77% thought free parking on festival days would be good.)
- 80% said they would be more likely to shop in the town centre if parking charges were reduced.
- 50% wanted the Town Council to lobby for 2 hours free parking (24% for three hours and 22% for one hour)
- 69% thought it would help if tickets were transferable between car parks in Congleton.
- Of the 424 respondent over 200 gave written comments about what they saw as the key issues surrounding car parking. The responses fell into six main categories;
- car parking charges has had a detrimental effect on footfall and businesses in town
- they visit neighbouring towns and out of town shopping centres rather than Congleton as they offer free parking
- willing to pay for parking if there were more key shops in town to make paying for parking worthwhile
- need for alternative ways to pay to avoid constraints of no change or going over time limit
- frustration at having to pay 30p to visit the bank or pick up a loaf of bread
- and a few that were pleased that car parking charges means it is easy to find somewhere to park in Congleton/ encourages people to find alternative transport
The results were considered by the Leader of Congleton Town Council, Cllr Bob Edwards, Town Clerk Brian Hogan, Chairman of the Traders Group Paul Bates and Town Centre Manager Jackie MacArthur. Speaking on behalf of the group Bob Edwards said: “We are really pleased that Cheshire East is looking at parking prices. Getting parking right has a big impact on the success of the town. In Congleton the retail parks at Barn Road and West Heath both have free parking and have no empty shop units. Many of our surrounding attractive towns also have free parking.“ Local people have told us that they would rather pay to park in a town with a wider choice of shops, or travel to a shopping centre or neighbouring town that offers free parking than pay to come into Congleton. From the recently advertised Consolidated Parking Orders it appears that Cheshire East is looking to reduce parking charges in Macclesfield, Crewe and Nantwich to 50p for two hours. To reduce the price of parking in these towns with a bigger shopping offer without making any concessions in Congleton will put our town at a further disadvantage. We will be asking Cheshire East to introduce two hours free parking in Congleton car parks as this is what our residents have told us they want.”The results of the Congleton survey, which had nine identical questions to Cheshire East car parking questionnaire, have been shared with Cheshire East. The results of parking survey will help form a Cheshire East Cabinet report on how to make car parking polices more town centre friendly. A copy of the full results of the Congleton car parking questionnaire can be seen at www.congleton-tc.gov.uk