Council car parks outside the city centre should offer 30 minutes’ free parking to help boost high streets and retailers according to activists.
Birmingham City Council’s Labour leadership has been urged to consider a free half-hour at all car parks outside the city centre.
Coun Paula Smith (Lib Dem, Hall Green) said: “Will the council investigate the possibility of providing a 30-minute grace period at council controlled car parks in suburban shopping centres to support local shopping and provide a stimulus to the local economy.”
Free parking was highlighted as a means of boosting town centres and high streets by the Government’s retail advisor and star of TVs Mary Queen of Shops Mary Portas.
In her report of December 2011 she suggested free parking and even a parking league table to highlight and compare charges as a means of breathing new life into struggling town centres and high streets.
The Federation of Small Businesses has also claimed that 50 per cent of retailers cite high parking charges as a deterrent to customers.
In Birmingham the council operates 37 car parks outside the city centre offering 2,616 parking spaces from Sutton Coldfield town centre to Soho Road. Only four, three in Sparkbrook, linked to the Stratford Road red route, and one in Balsall Heath, are currently completely free.
But the cabinet member for the economy, Coun Tahir Ali (Lab, Nechells), said he has no plans to either order or subsidise short term free parking.
He instead passed the issue on to the council’s ten district committees. “The responsibility for management of council operated car parks outside the city centre was devolved to distrcits in May 2011.
“It is matter for them to set the tariffs for car parks within their control.”
Seven of the ten districts are controlled by Labour, two by the Conservatives and one run by Lib Dems.