A forward-thinking town has taken the unusual step of buying its own car park from the local authority to guarantee it will always be able to offer free parking to shoppers.
The move by Boroughbridge is particularly significant as local authorities, including North Yorkshire County Council, are considering introducing or extending parking charges in market towns, such as nearby Northallerton.
With financial support from Boroughbridge Chamber of Trade, Boroughbridge Town Council has bought the Back Lane car park from Harrogate Borough Council on behalf of the town.
Barbara Lambert-Hill, the president of Boroughbridge Chamber of Trade, said:
“This is a really important step forward for Boroughbridge and is an unusual thing for a town to do, but it shows how strongly we all feel about taking control of our own destiny.
“With so many other towns having their free parking reduced or restricted, it’s fantastic to be able to say that parking will be free in Boroughbridge from now on.
“Not only that, but there is no time limit on the Back Lane car park, so people can stay in Boroughbridge for as long as they want.”
The timing of the deal is particularly significant in the run-up to Christmas, when many families are watching their budgets in order to have enough to spend on gifts.
The money shoppers save by parking in Boroughbridge this festive season, instead of going to other towns and cities which charge for parking, could be put towards an extra present to go under the tree on Christmas Day.
Ms Lambert-Hill added:
“If you go elsewhere, parking can cost as much as £12 for a full day, which is a significant amount when you’ve got gifts to buy too.
“The saving people make by coming to Boroughbridge is easily enough to buy an extra gift for someone special – or a treat for themselves after a hard day’s shopping.”
The news has been welcomed by Love Boroughbridge, a cooperative of independent businesses working together to raise the town’s profile and increase footfall.
The town is already planning two major events in the run-up to Christmas and the guaranteed free parking will help to attract more visitors to them.
On Wednesday, December 4, late-night shopping will see doors staying open into the evening.
Not only that, but there will be extra treats on offer, including a Santa’s Grotto in Hall Square, carol singing, mulled wine, roast chestnuts and a children’s prize treasure hunt.
For those who can’t get to the late-night shopping event, there will be a second chance to enjoy a festive atmosphere on Saturday, December 7 when Boroughbridge celebrates Small Business Saturday.
Shop windows will be decorated for the event, which aims to support small and independent businesses around the UK, and businesses will have special offers throughout the day.
Ms Lambert-Hill, who works at Hair on the Square – a member of Love Boroughbridge – said:
“Boroughbridge is absolutely buzzing at the moment and there’s a really strong feeling of community spirit.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors from across the district and beyond this festive season and, as well as the free parking, we can promise them a very warm welcome in Boroughbridge.”