Free parking in Haslemere on 7th December 2013

FREE PARKING FOR HASLEMERE announced via the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce

In a move that will bring Christmas cheer to Haslemere retailers, Waverley Borough Council has agreed to allow free parking in its car parks on Saturday 7 December.

The concession follows protracted talks between Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce, other local groups and the council over the cost and provision of parking, and the possibility of lower tariffs to encourage shoppers into the town.

The council’s decision also reflects a recent central government request for local authorities to support retailers in the run-up to Christmas.

The date selected for the concession is regarded as one of the busiest pre-Christmas shopping days – and it coincides with a new nationwide promotion for independent retailers, Small Business Saturday. It also comes as Haslemere Chamber is putting together the details of its campaign to put a ‘buzz’ back on our high streets.

In a message to Chamber Vice-President Craig McGowan, Waverley Councillor Carole King says: “On 5 November I again raised this matter with my executive colleagues and, as a result, officers were asked at formal executive meeting that evening to look into the possibility of offering Saturday 7 December as a free car park day across the borough.

“I am very pleased to say that Waverley has agreed to offer this one-day-only free parking in all its car parks across the whole borough.”

Mrs King, who represents Haslemere, Shottermill and Critchmere, and whose portfolio includes car parks, adds that because of the financial implications this will be a one-off offer, and no other free dates can be considered.

She says: “I can confirm that this decision does not need to go to full council, but can be covered under Chief Executive’s Actions.”

Welcoming the news, Craig McGowan says: “This is a small but very significant step on the way to better relations between commerce and council. Credit must also be given to Councillor Nicky Lee who was instrumental in gaining Councillor King’s support.

“We would have preferred a larger concession, but on the other hand Waverley has now shown that it does understand some of the needs of retailers – something many traders have doubted for a long time.

“Our retail sub-committee will be meeting urgently to maximise the opportunity that the concession presents. We need to ensure that the ‘free parking’ message gets out to the widest possible audience of potential shoppers. As a Chamber, we will make sure that it gets prominence on our website and in our weekly newsletter.

“The Chamber will use the concession as a starting point for fresh discussion with Waverley over longer-term support for the retail sector. In our view, the future of retail in Haslemere depends on a partnership between commerce and council, and Waverley has just given us fresh hope.”