Free parking deal to cost £395 per day
SALTASH'S car parks will be free every weekend from July to the end of November after councillors voted to spend money from the Waitrose development on the scheme.
Saltash Town-centre Improvement Group (STIG) and Saltash Town Council ran a similar project using Section 106 money – used to offset the impact of developments – in the run-up to Christmas and said traders had seen a huge boost in custom.
Councillors opted to trial the scheme on Saturdays by paying Cornwall Council a set fee to compensate the unitary authority for the money lost in the same way as in December.
Parking in the town is already free on Sundays, meaning motorists will not have to pay between 4pm on Friday and 9am on Monday.
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The Cornish Guardian last month reported on a row between Cornwall Council and STIG, chaired by councillor Adam Killeya, when the latter accused the authority of blocking moves to regenerate town centres.
Cornwall Council originally asked for £452 per day to cover the free Saturday parking, up from the £300 per day it received for the Christmas scheme.
Councillor Adam Killeya said: "We had budgeted for £350, but £395 per day I think is the best we're going to get. I'm not happy with it but we've at least beaten them down.
"I also asked Cornwall Council if they could quote us a price now for Christmas so they couldn't put it up again. They've come back and said no they won't do that."
Councillors voted unanimously to spend the extra money in the hope of increasing town centre footfall over the weekend.
"I'm pleased that Cornwall Council has come back with a more reasonable offer, although I still feel that it's excessive," said Mr Killeya.
"However, in the circumstances we've had to make a decision about the best way forward for Saltash and that's to proceed."
Commenting on the decision to accept the new offer, mayor Martin Gee said the people of the town wanted to be able to enjoy their town centre without paying a premium. We've got some new shops and two vacancies in the whole town and people are being penalised for turning up," he said.
Cornwall Council's town centre management specialist Guy Thomas said: "This scheme is part of an ongoing programme of measures we are working on with the STIG group and we wish them every success with the parking scheme," he said.
"From a town management perspective it will be valuable to monitor how structured schemes like this work and to learn lessons which may benefit others, too."