Free Saturday parking bid gathers momentum

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Lewes Chamber of Commerce has thrown its weight behind the campaign for a better parking deal in the town.

A petition is calling for an immediate change of policy with the introduction of free on and off-street parking on a Saturday in the town centre, where practicable.

“I strongly believe that anything that can boost trade on Saturdays should be encouraged,” said Chamber President David Clark.

“We need to make Lewes stand out and become as full of shoppers as it should be. This is just common sense.”

Mr Clark said he had put the idea to the Chamber’s committee and had received only positive feedback. The jeweller has agreed to have the petition available in his premises and hopes further outlets will offer it a wider circulation and carry posters calling for a change in the stringent parking rules. It has already been signed by several hundred people.

The petition, which will be presented to Lewes District and East Sussex County Councils, is the brainchild of Lewes Town Councillor Stephen Catlin, who said he was delighted by the Chamber’s full support.

“This endorsement really gives the campaign the boost it needs,” said Cllr Catlin.

“Fighting together we may achieve something.

“It’s a positive step forward and now we may get both the county and district councils to pay attention to this once flourishing town. It must flourish again.”

The petition, which is also calling for free parking on School Hill for up to 30 minutes, aims to encourage more residents, visitors and tourists into Lewes town centre.

This would have the double benefit of boosting the local economy and making shopping and general access more convenient.

Meanwhile, Cllr Catlin has drawn attention to a call from the Secretary of State for Communities for councils to ditch “anti-car” dogma and boost parking.

New planning guidance, due to be published this week, would also say councils should ensure parking charges do not “undermine” local economies.

“Draconian” parking policies and “over-zealous traffic wardens” had driven motorists into internet retailers and out-of-town stores, Eric Pickles said.

Parking charges should be appropriate and not undermine the vitality of town centres and local shops.