More than 1,000 residents, visitors and shoppers have so far signed the petition to have free parking in Lewes on Saturdays and 30 minutes free Monday to Friday on School Hill.
It has ben organised by Independent Stephen Catlin (Priory Ward) and he is still not satisfied! Like Oliver Twist he wants some more – “as many again and then some, if we can,” he said.
The closing date has been set for October 19 so there is still time.
Cllr Catlin revealed that official figures show a steady decline in parking revenue on School Hill since 2011. From £54,107.70 in that year, through £51,860.20 in 2012 to £26,692.75 in the first seven months of the current calendar year.
“And when one considers the recent price hike, the falling receipts indicate that even fewer people are coming than the figures may suggest,” Cllr Catlin said.
“It is worth noting that before the present scheme was introduced and when Lewes District Council ran the off-street car parks alone, the nett surplus District-wide, amounted to more than £100,000 annually. And that was when it cost no more than 50p to park for most of the day. What has gone wrong? Why does it cost so much? The scheme is not working and needs to be abandoned or rethought.”
Cllr Catlin continued: “Some months ago, when I first advocated free Saturday parking, the Chief Executive of Lewes District Council told me that we had no chance, and that what Lewes needed was better shops! Unless we can bring people to the town to show there is footfall, the better shops she advocates just will not come. If Lewes is to survive and regain its pre-eminence we must have much cheaper parking.
“Shopkeepers such as David Quinn at Barbican Carpets tell of customers saying they don’t come to Lewes very much these days. They spend ages trying to park and then pay heavily for it. No wonder they go elsewhere!”
Shops holding the petition, which is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, include Castle Sandwich Bar, Hugh Rae Outfitters, Barclays Bank, Equilibrium, Lewes Luggage, Robson’s Cafe, Harveys retail shop, Clarke’s the Jewellers, Louis Potts and Pastorale Antiques.