Two-hour free car parking is needed

Reading the article on the front page I was very happy to see that at last Crown Estates’ expansion of Silverlink Retail Park was being questioned, though as usual North Tyneside Council seem to be ploughing ahead regardless (News Guardian, March 12).

We seem to be constantly bombarded with promises from the council about the regeneration of our town centres, we hear about the improvements to the few areas that still attract tourists, such as the historic Fish quay and the coast, when in reality all we see is neglect and the introduction of yet more parking metres and permit holder zones.

Crown Estates understand that in order to attract customers they need ample free parking, they don’t want a level playing field, they don’t want our town centres to improve or become more accessible, and the last thing they want is for local independent retailers to succeed!

According to recent research, a high street populated with thriving local businesses not only boosts the prices of nearby homes, but for every pound spent with a small or medium sized local business, 63p stayed in the local economy compared to just 37p spent with large chain stores.

Time magazine recently suggested that money is like blood, it needs to keep circulating to allow local economies to thrive, but when that money is spent elsewhere, such as big supermarkets and chain stores, it flows out like an open wound, leaving ghost towns behind.

The council seems to be so far behind the curve with current thinking and ideas to improve our local economy and environment, it’s almost laughable if it wasn’t so tragic!

They will, of course, attempt to justify this with the promise of jobs, but how many jobs will be lost from our local stores, shops and restaurants as more customers take advantage of free parking and expensive new road links to make Silverlink easier to access.

To counteract this I think the council must introduce two-hour free parking discs.

Northumberland has very successfully introduced this scheme, transforming its town centres, boosting local businesses and encouraging more tourists.

I seriously doubt that the new parking metres and camera car are in place to encourage safety on our roads, but merely to raise revenue for a cash strapped council.

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