Free Parking in Bognor Regis – Myth or Masterstroke?
For longer than most of us can remember, regeneration has been talked about as the panacea to sort out everything in Bognor Regis.
Now, business groups in the town have got together behind a plan that is both simple, and viable.
Before we look at their plans, ask yourself what regeneration is. Even the experts have sometimes been at a loss to explain. Most of us would probably say, put simply, regeneration of a town increases the wealth and the feelgood factor – by keeping businesses in the town, attracting new ones in, and thus providing benefit of competitive choice and employment for the people of the town. By so doing, it should be a better place to go to for visiting, shopping, and entertainment.
Previous plans have come and gone. They were either too expensive, too complicated, or did not have the full support of the people of Bognor Regis.
This new plan, put forward by the Bognor Regis Civic Society, and supported by the local Chamber of Commerce, TBI Business Group, large national businesses, and small independent retailers, is simple in context, can be introduced within weeks, and has the benefit of being cost effective. It is also in line with the council’s official objective of promoting shopping and visitors to the town centre.
In a nutshell the plan consists of making car parking FREE OF CHARGE for shoppers and residents, both on and off-street.
This is not as startling as one would think. There have been free parking systems in place in Littlehampton and Rustington for years. Why not Bognor Regis?
Where would the money come from to fund this initiative, you may ask? The Civic Society has the answer. There are two main sources, with top-up from others: -
1. The £2.7million that Arun District Council received when Butlins, in Bognor Regis, negotiated their new lease. Not all of it, but it is fair to ask that part of it be re-invested in this scheme to improve the lot of people of the town.
2. With the approval of the new Sainsbury’s store, £500,000 has been included as part of the deal, to be set aside for the Bognor Regis town centre regeneration. How fitting that the store, with free out-of-town parking, should help redress the balance, with free parking for town centre retailers.
3. Top-up funds could come from advertising in the car parks, sponsorship of any discs or tickets used, and so on.
Hand in hand with this, there should be a clear system of signage introduced, to help visitors to the town find somewhere to park quickly, and easily.
In short, a simple method to spark the economy in the centre of Bognor Regis. A way to make our shopping experience more enjoyable. One that does not take 5 or 10 years, then does not arrive. Or does not decimate parts of our town; close off roads, and add to traffic congestion.