Vexpan, a parking association in the Netherlands has come out swinging in response to the comments made yesterday regarding the suggestion of “free parking” in town centres (read my blog article here). For those not already in the know, the 411 is this: a unique situation has occurred in the seaside town of Cardigan in Wales where a combination of vandalised parking meters and an unfortunate lack of council funding has led to a hiatus in parking fees – something which customers and retailers are both enjoying immensely.
Dutch retail expert and professor Cor Molenaar from the Erasmus University in the Netherlands remarked in De Telgraaf yesterday: “This should be an incentive for local councils to provide periods of free parking.”
Vexpan argues that there are two main points to consider here: the first being that the quality of retail available in town centres should be high enough to ensure a constant flow of consumers, and that the parking available should reflect this ensuring constant accessibility.
If there is an accessibility issue, this can be regulated by implementing paid parking. When these issues go unaddressed, this can not only cause problems for customers who find it difficult to find a parking space, but also for retailers who experience a bottleneck in the flow of customers.
According to Vexpan, allowing free parking periods is definitely something that smaller towns or villages could contemplate, however parking regulations as a whole should remain a matter for local government. Also, differentiation between paid and free parking periods should not be a consideration during peak times, however implementation during off-peak periods can make parking in town centre more attractive to consumers.
So, we’ve heard the for and the against: what’s your two cents?