Retailers ‘lose £250k’ in Rasen since January

All quiet: This  image of the High Street was taken from a footfall study camera.
All quiet: This image of the High Street was taken from a footfall study camera.

A survey of Market Rasen businesses has suggested a figure of around a quarter of a million has been lost in takings since parking charges were introduced in the town at the beginning of the year.

A survey of Market Rasen businesses has suggested a figure of around a quarter of a million has been lost in takings since parking charges were introduced in the town at the beginning of the year.

The survey was carried out by local business man Adrian Campbell, who has a B.Sc in Business Management, a post graduate qualification in 
Marketing and specific training and experience in market research.

He said: “Despite my personal interest in the subject, the principle ways to avoid bias were to try to survey everybody so results would not be confined to those complaining (about the parking charges).

“The survey was also made confidential because it was asking about actual business takings.”

Key results from the survey suggest:

• 76% of 76 business respondents said car park charges had “damaged Market Rasen town centre retailers”

•13% said car park charges “have had no net effect” on Market Rasen town centre retailers”

•3% (two respondents) said car park charges “have supported Market Rasen town centre retailers”.

(One of these two respondents made it clear however that their view was based on the fact that they could now easily park outside their office).

•59% of 56 respondents said “takings have gone down” since January 30 (when car park charging began)

•38% said “takings are unchanged” since January 30

•4% (two respondents) said “takings have gone up” (however both of these had average individual sale values of £250+ so their business would likely be unaffected by footfall changes)

•19 respondents reported actual figures for changes in monthly takings; 18 down, 1 up. The total net loss reported by these 19 respondents equates to £145,000 per year.

•62% of 71 respondents said they “did not know” there was unspent cash from the Portas Pilot project.

•89% of 70 respondents said they would “support the setting up of a Town Centre Partnership”.

In his gloomy summing up after the survey, Mr Campbell said: “Instead of a win, win it’s been a lose, lose for Rasen, and the survey we have just completed estimates that loss at £250,000 a year.

“If you assume the 33 respondents who reported a loss had similar loss experiences to the 19 who reported actual figures the the net loss to the town is £265,000 per year.

“Furthermore, seven businesses were ‘new’ since the parking charges were introduced and were not able to contribute to the turnover increase/decrease question.

“It is worth noting (without conclusion) that seven businesses must have closed down in order for seven new ones to start up.”

However, it could be all change as new recommendations being taken to WLDC suggest the parking strategy should be amended to allow for two hours free parking in Market Rasen - something many residents have campaigned for.

But is it all change for parking charges?

Parking regulations in Market Rasen could be set to change as new recommendations might see two hours’ free parking introduced in the town.

The new recommendations from the Director of Commercial and Economic Growth will be put before West Lindsey District Council’s Prosperous Communities Committee tonight (Wednesday).

The recommendations suggest ending the current system of free parking after 3pm.

Instead, the committee will discuss the introduction of a free two hour parking period - at any time of day.

The idea of a two hour free period was discussed at length at a public town meeting on the subject of parking earlier in the year - and became one of the town council’s recommendations to WLDC.

An alternative parking regime could also see charges between the hours of 8am and 6pm Monday to Saturday.

The commitee will also discuss continuing the no charge policy for blue badge holders.

In a report to the commitee, the new parking recommendations are related to a required ‘bespoke approach to car parking in Market Rasen’.

This approach is to fit with the unique ‘economic challenges’ faced by the town and ‘the context of emerging regeneration plans for the town’ – referred to as the Three Year Vision.

According to WLDC, the vision has been designed to improve the sustainability and attractiveness of Rasen for shoppers and visitors to the town.

The Three Year Vision has also been formulated to capitalise on the housing led economic growth secured in the Local Plan - within which 600 new homes have already been granted planning permission, including the controversial Caistor Road development.