Shoppers prove value of free Bognor parking scheme

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Carla Slade proved the worth of free parking in Bognor Regis town centre.

She headed to the shops on the first morning of the scheme to enable motorists to avoid paying charges for stays of up to two hours.

Carla and her friend and fellow mum, Sandra Pascall, were quick to take advantage of the initiative last Thursday morning.

They had probably the first free parking discs on show in the Lyon Street car park.

They had dropped off their children at the nearby St Mary’s Catholic Primary School just before 9am and luxuriated in their new freedom from parking charges.

They previously had to pay to park or search the streets for a ten minute free parking slot offered as a concession to parents.

Carla, 43, of Felpham, said: “I’m going to go into Bognor now that I’ve got two hours’ free parking.

“Before, when I had just ten minutes’ free parking, I would rush off after going to the school and go to Chichester.

“I will definitely do a lot more shopping in Bognor from now on.

“It might only be the first day but I think the scheme will be a real benefit to the town and should be extended.”

Sandra, also 43, of Aldwick, said: “This was quite an expensive car park at £1.05 an hour. People just couldn’t afford it.

“Making it free will definitely make me want to park here and I’m sure it will encourage other people as well.”

Thousands of other motorists share their sentiments. Just over 5,000 of the discs have been sold.

Some 1,200 of them have been bought at Polkadot Stripes. The shop, jointly owned by Chris Clark, is the only supplier in the London Road precinct.

He said: “I’m very enthusiastic about the scheme. There was a great launch last Saturday with the elves and we sold 200-plus that day alone.

“It’s a great way to persuade people to come in and shop in the town. I’d say there has been a slight increase in trade so far and I’d like the scheme to be extended beyond its first year.

“Out of the buyers, 98 per cent are enthusiastic about the scheme though a few resent having to pay for the discs when they are free in Littlehampton.”

* The free parking applies to the Lyon Street car park with its 61 spaces and six disabled spaces and the Fitzleet multi-storey with 343 spaces and 24 disabled places.

The scheme will last until next December initially and will be reviewed next May.

It is being funded by Arun and Bognor councils, with the town council contributing on behalf of traders.

The discs are available for £1 each from 24 outlets around the town. They are: Bognor Regis Observer/self-serve visitor information point on the Place St Maur, Unique Printing and Embroidery, Leaders, Cash Converters, Niche Cafe, Appliance Centre, Heaps of PCs, Keith Jay, Reynolds, Second Chance, London Stores, Claydens, Little Shop of Secrets, Polkadot Stripes, Picturedrome Cinema, Regis Centre, Kampos Cycles, Lock Centre, Sight and Sound, Heygates Paperback Exchange, Print-In, James Jewellers, Cornerstone Computers, Bognor Regis Town Hall.

Some are displaying the scheme’s yellow and blue ‘2’ logo in their windows.