Free parking pilot launches in Bridgend

By Raspberry Jim,

A free parking scheme is launching tomorrow (22 August) in Bridgend town centre in a bid to boost trade.

The first two hours of parking at the new Rhiw multi-storey car park is now free until the Spring.

The pilot scheme, made possible due to a grant from Welsh Government, is being run to see how much of an impact it has in attracting shoppers to the town centre.

In a partnership between Bridgend County Borough Council and CF31 BID, it is hoped the initiative will increase visitor numbers by making the town centre a more attractive and accessible place to visit.

Councillor Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, added: “The Rhiw multi-storey is perfectly located for this pilot scheme, which will run through to the end of March 2018. If the free parking is seen to have had a positive effect on the town centre, we will then have to see whether the Welsh Government provide a further allocation for a free parking scheme to continue in 2018-19.”

Trader Steve Watkins from Watkins Menswear, said: “This is an excellent initiative to entice shoppers, old and new to visit the town centre. We know that people want to support their local town centre and market and this offer of two hours free parking gives them the opportunity to do just that, a great idea.”

The parking initiative is one of the first projects from CF31 BID after businesses in Bridgend town centre voted overwhelmingly in favour of establishing a Business Improvement District (BID).

CF31 BID invests funding raised from a levy of 1.25% of the total rateable value of businesses in the town centre back into a programme targeted specifically at improving the vibrancy of Bridgend town centre.

Justin Jenkins, manager of CF31 BID, said: “Bridgend is a wonderful town – well situated with an excellent transport network, a proud history and great local businesses. Yet like many town centres in Wales, it has seen a decline in retail spend and footfall, along with an increase in vacant properties in recent years, and that has affected us all.

“We are working hard to build a brighter future for Bridgend and improving parking and access is one area we are looking at. We’re delighted to launch this free parking pilot to see what impact it has. We’re hoping that residents and visitors will take full advantage of the initiative increasing footfall in the town centre.”

The parking incentive follows a spate of new openings in the town centre including café bar Corvo Lounge, gelato and dessert house Kaspa’s and Adi’s Dessert Bar.

The new Rhiw multi-storey opened in November and is part of a larger re-development project in the town centre. Coastal Housing is close to completion on its Cwrt Ty Afon mixed-use development, which includes new apartments and a retail unit. The old McDonalds is also soon to be demolished making way for 15 residential units and three ground floor retail units, while the development of the Gaylard Buildings on Court Road will offer another 15 residential units.

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