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Free parking day and a touch of colour top list
TRADERS would like to see a ‘free parking day’ in Worcester to get more shoppers through their doors in a bid to boost the High Street. The call came as Worcester City Council announced it was undertaking a new effort to make sure businesses in Worcester prosper and emerge from the economic hardship.
Bin collections, the seagull problem and inconsiderate cyclists all made the council’s list of problems to address – but parking came out on top among traders.
Andrew Hutson, assistant manager at DW Sports Store in High Street, which opened three weeks ago, suggested that a free car parking day, particularly in the middle of the week when it was quieter to encourage people into the city centre, would help.
He said parking remained an issue for both shoppers and staff and he parked in Rainbow Hill to avoid parking charges.
“Parking in Worcester is a nightmare. It costs around £500 a year to park at the NCP Cathedral car park,” he said.“A lot of places have started doing free parking days.”
There is an early bird offer at the car park, which gives people the chance to park all day for £3.50 if they park before 9.30am. Otherwise it costs £2 to park up to one hour, £3 for two hours and £4 for up to three hours.
Security was also raised as an issue, although Worcester BID does have its own part-time, dedicated store detective who detained 149 people suspected of shoplifting in 360 incidents and recovered more than £8,000 in stolen goods.
The detective is funded by BID and linked to the CityNet radio scheme. However, Megan Holding, apparel supervisor at DW Sports Store, said: “Security isn’t great. We haven’t got a list of prolific shop offenders – nothing like that.
“I’m not really bothered about a paper bag blowing around [referring to the council’s aim to curb the amount of rubbish in bags on the High Street] – I’m more bothered if £300 of stock has gone missing.
“I can’t go chasing and rugby tackling someone. I would like pictures of some of the prolific offenders so staff know who they are.”
She said the suggestions by Worcester City Council seemed “a bit cosmetic”. John Kendrick, centre manager at Cathedral Plaza, said free parking on Sundays would help, making it a more attractive place for shoppers.
Anje Potze, owner of Anje Potze Fine Jewellery, in Friar Street, said parking wardens could be more lenient. She said: “What always amazes me is that a lot of people don’t know about Friar Street when it is one of the prettiest streets.
“We need to be promoted a bit more. People talk about the High Street – everybody needs a High Street – but Friar Street is quite unique.
“We feel forgotten about down here and, because a lot of the shops are smaller, they’re not part of Worcester BID. “I would like to see something done about the bins. They should be collected before 9am.
“The parking is also very expensive and I think the council need to look at that.”
Kim Wilson, a supervisor at Bytheways cafe and restaurant in High Street, said: “I would like to see more free parking or discount parking.
“A free parking day would increase the number of people coming through the door.”
And Lindsay Smith, a sales assistant at jewellers WH Peplow, said problems on the High Street included people doing surveys and cracked pavements.
“A free parking day would be good to encourage shoppers and stop trade going out of town to the retail parks,” she said. She also considered rubbish and tackling gulls to be important and said she like to see more hanging baskets like they have in Tewkesbury and Upton.
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