Free parking for shoppers!

Date published: 04 October 2011

FREE parking is being launched at all Oldham Council-owned car parks on Saturdays in an attempt to boost the town’s economy.

The council is hoping its investment will be an early Christmas present for town-centre traders during the year’s busiest shopping period.

From Saturday, October 15, shoppers can take advantage of a maximum free stay of up to three hours. Motorists wishing to stay longer in the town centre can use free all-day parking at Hobson Street, just off Union Street.

The scheme will last every Saturday until January 14, 2012, to also take in the hectic New Year trade.

Oldham Council revealed costs will be in the region of £78,000, which is a combination of “loss revenue” and costs to introduce the pilot, through the change of signs and implementing a traffic regulation order.

The council believe the investment will ease the financial strain on residents and businesses during the current economic downturn.

Council leader Councillor Jim McMahon said the action needed to be taken following concerns about fewer shoppers in the town and vacant shopping centre units.

He said: “A thriving town centre is vital to Oldham’s economy and the council has a duty to offer leadership and support in challenging times.

“All towns are affected by the UK retail downturn and Oldham also has the added complication of the ongoing Metrolink works, so we are being proactive to help both residents and traders alike.

“The coming months should be our busiest time of the year for shopping and we’ve moved to implement this as early as possible.”

The council leader revealed the town centre’s identity needs to be “redefined” in the future, with many residents choosing to shop elsewhere.

Speaking at the council’s cabinet meeting last night, Councillor McMahon urged Oldhamers to get behind their town and shop locally.

The town car park which will see the biggest change is at the Civic Centre where drivers are charged up to £2.50 to park their vehicle for three hours.

The council warns charges and penalties will apply to motorists who wish to park for longer than three hours at the affected car parks.

Free parking will apply from Octobr 15 at these council-owned car parks for a maximum of three hours:
Civic Centre, Waterloo Street, Southgate Street, Bow Street, Bradshaw Street, Oldham Sports Centre car park (Rock Street), Tommyfield, Clegg Street, Garlick Street, Cannon Street, New Radcliffe Street. Current arrangements already permit three hours of free parking for disabled permit holders.