Free After Three 'Huge' Success!

July 24, 2009 12:00 AM

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen alongside Councillor Greg CouzensRochdale's Cabinet Member for Finance Councillor Greg Couzens has this week labelled the Council's 'Free after Three' scheme as a huge success and has stated that the Council are now looking to extending the programme to all day Saturdays.

The scheme which began in June was introduced by the Liberal Democrats in an effort to boost local business by slashing parking charges in the town centre. It was hoped that it would give a much needed kick start to the local economy, in the light of the recession sweeping the country.

However 'Free After Three has now been hailed as a huge success after it was revealed at this week's full Council Meeting that town centre shops have reported a significant increase in footfall. The scheme, which was announced at the previous Full Council Meeting in May, has made it cheaper to park in Rochdale, than in the neighbouring towns of Bury and Oldham.

Councillor Greg Couzens said: "The figures clearly indicate a substantial increase in shoppers visiting Rochdale Town Centre. This week spoke to Marks & Spencer store manager Mike Tobin, in which he confirmed that his Footfall is up 3.5% on the year (that's about 550 additional customers during a three week period after 3pm) and the average basket is up 3.6% on the year. It's no wonder that this Liberal Democrat groundbreaking initiative is now being copied up and down the country. I would like to thank all the officers involved for its prompt implementation."

Councillor Couzens added: We are now looking at extending free parking to all day Saturdays. We realise that during these hard economic times we have to do everything we can to support local businesses. I know there have been calls for free parking all day everyday but this would cost around of £1 million and we simply don't have that kind of finance. There are still many factors still to look at but I hope to be able to announce some more good news soon."

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen said: "Last week I held a series of meetings with local businesses, Council officers Council Leader Alan and Finance Boss Greg Couzens. This included extending our Council's 'free after three' parking scheme. I am delighted that our Council have listened to our traders and are looking a rolling out this scheme all day Saturday. It's vital that we look after our traders and this will make a real difference."