Trade chamber set to launch bid for free parking in High Street

PUBLISHED: 15:48 14 January 2009 | UPDATED: 07:09 30 May 2010

Great sales at Perkins.
Great Dunmow.
January, 12, 2009.
Photograph by Michael Boyton.
Pic shows: Piers outside the garage.
Name: Piers Terry (sales director).

Great sales at Perkins. Great Dunmow. January, 12, 2009. Photograph by Michael Boyton. Pic shows: Piers outside the garage. Name: Piers Terry (sales director).

DUNMOW S Chamber of Trade and Commerce is set to lobby Uttlesford District Council officials for free town centre parking in a desperate bid to continue improving High Street sales. At a chamber meeting on Monday a letter from membership secretary Terry L

DUNMOW'S Chamber of Trade and Commerce is set to lobby Uttlesford District Council officials for free town centre parking in a desperate bid to continue improving High Street sales.

At a chamber meeting on Monday a letter from membership secretary Terry Laplain suggested that, just as roadworks and recession threaten to bite into the High Street's footfall, free parking could attract more customers.

She said: "We are due to have roadworks for the White Street development anytime soon and if numbers fall like the last recession, Dunmow's High Street could die.

"We need to find ways to keep businesses going in the town and I think free parking on Saturdays will encourage shoppers."

The chamber explored the idea of free parking in the week leading up to Christmas but was told by UDC's chief executive John Mitchell that an application was too late. He said the council would be concerned about a sudden loss in car park revenue.

However, chairman of the chamber, Mike Perry, said: "All we wanted before Christmas was a kind gesture to help us get in more customers and also repay the ones who do shop in the town. They do a similar scheme in nearby Braintree and they seemed to be busy this year.

"Free parking on a Saturday all year round could bring in enough customers to keep shop owners in business."

Despite a gloomy outlook nationally, Dunmow High Street seems to have taken a turn for the better during December, with food stores, gift shops, clothes boutiques, jewellers and car dealerships revealing that sales have been better than expected.

Car dealers Perkins, just off the High Street, revealed they recorded their best December ever.

Sales manager Piers Terry said: "Sales have gone up a third and it was easily our best [December] since we moved into the town 11 years ago. It came as a great surprise and we are very pleased.

"We think that it may be because local consumers are supporting local businesses that they know and trust."

Sarah Cassidy, owner of Cassidy's Delicatessen and secretary for the chamber, said: "I have had customers coming in and asking if we are doing ok. It is great that local people appear to be coming back to the High Street and taking an interest in what local shops have to offer."

The chamber has also announced a u-turn on the annual late night Christmas shopping. There were initial fears the event could be axed after a poor showing from customers in 2008.

However, a date of Friday December 11 has already been set and the organisers hope to make it bigger and better than ever.

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