A new initiative designed to encourage more people into Wilmslow and boost trade seems to have failed to grab people's attention.
Towards the end of last year Cheshire East Council introduced up to 4 days of free parking a year in Council owned car parks where charges apply.
In Wilmslow the offer of free parking applies to South Drive; Hoopers; Spring Street and the Rex car parks and can be used on any four days in a 12 month period.
Wilmslow Town Council chose Tuesday, 27th December 2016 to have the first free day of parking, to tie in with the start of the sales for many Wilmslow stores.
Town Clerk Matthew Jackson said "27th December being the first day of the winter sales for most shops in Wilmslow should be a very busy day. Free parking should benefit the retailers by providing an added incentive to come to Wilmslow and benefit visitors and businesses by encouraging longer stays in the town."
Today, Saturday, 28th January, was selected as the second day of free parking.
Matthew Jackson explained ""In order to help generate footfall at a quiet time of the year the date of Saturday 28 January will have free parking."
However, having visited the South Drive, Hoopers and Rex car parks this morning it was clearly apparent that the vast majority of motorists had no idea that car parking was free today.
My daughters and I walked up and down several aisles of the car park at Sainsbury's and the driver of every car, bar one, had purchased a parking ticket. Which was not surprising really, given there were no signs on the actual ticket machines, instead there was a sign on a post several metres away.
At Hoopers car park the sign was on a post as you drove in, however at the Rex car park - where there was a sign adjacent to the ticket machine - we noticed a few more drivers had not purchased tickets.
Speaking about the introduction of the scheme, a spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: "The primary purpose of this incentive is to support our towns and provide a flexible incentive which can be used in the run up to Christmas or spread throughout the year to aid key town events. This is in addition to the free parking after 3pm at certain designated car parks within the borough."
However, if the vast majority of people using the car parks are not even aware of the free parking then surely the initiative cannot succeed in its aim of attracting more people into the town.
Wilmslow Town Council has selected Good Friday as the third day because it "is another very busy day for retail stores and, as parking charges would normally apply, this date has also been selected in order to encourage footfall" and the final date is yet to be confirmed.
In order to avoid all the spaces being taken up by workers, the free parking starts after 10am.
Did you realise there was free parking in the town centre today, Saturday, 28th Janaury? Do you think this scheme has an impact on the number of people coming into Wilmslow to use the shops, bars and restaurants? If not, do you have any alternate suggestions for attracting more people with free parking?
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