Retailers calling for free parking on St Albans’ Holywell Hill

Holywell Hill Shop owners The Outdoor Store David Izzard, Mailboxes Etc Centre Owner Paul Hargreaves

Holywell Hill Shop owners The Outdoor Store David Izzard, Mailboxes Etc Centre Owner Paul Hargreaves, Pots of Art Amanda Allen, Conmigo Ting Ting Hung, Singhli Indian Street Kitchen Narinder Virdee, Simply French Lesley Ivinson and St Albans Music Centre Elizabeth Barber call for more free parking for customers - Credit: Archant

SHOPKEEPERS are piling pressure on the district council to relax parking charges on Holywell Hill in St Albans.

Since 50 free parking bays at the bottom of the hill became pay and display more than a year ago local traders claim fewer shoppers have been visiting the city.

With more stores rapidly disappearing from the high street, retailers have issued a fresh plea for St Albans district council to help boost their business by reintroducing free short-stay car parking.

Paul Hargreaves, owner of Mail Boxes Etc, said: “Ideally I want free parking because I think it will help get more shoppers into the area.

“We are seeing less footfall and there are fewer people parking on the hill which is a problem for local shops. I think with the amount of shops closing it is quite shocking and something needs to be done.”

Free parking was scrapped in October 2011 as the council maintained it would prevent motorists from occupying the bays all day and therefore free up space for shoppers and residents.

But according to business owners on Holywell Hill people have been put off by the charges and the parking area is frequently empty.

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Adrian Clark, owner of Clarks Camera Centre, said: “Lots of customers resent having to pay for just a couple of hours.

“The spaces should be free especially as they are empty so the council is getting no revenue from them.”

The council is currently looking at creating more free parking for visitors in conjunction with their visitor strategy, which has recently been agreed to attract more people to the district.

As part of this they said they are considering bringing back free short-term parking spaces to Holywell Hill based on a scheme that was introduced to St Peter’s Street last year.

Maria Stagg, regulatory services manager at the council, said: “We are currently looking at making some of these parking spaces free for one or two hours in Holywell Hill. We hope that this will help make parking in this location even more attractive for shoppers.

“When we conducted a survey about these plans in the area last summer some residents were concerned they would be adversely affected, while the businesses that responded had mixed views.

“The council is now monitoring how parking spaces on Holywell Hill are used, before taking these plans further.”