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Council approves 30 minutes’ free parking for Barking and Dagenham shoppers

PUBLISHED: 15:01 19 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:28 19 October 2016

Traders in Five Elms Parade spoke of their anger at Barking and Dagenham parking rules

Traders in Five Elms Parade spoke of their anger at Barking and Dagenham parking rules

Archant

Shoppers will be entitled to 30 minutes’ free parking in a move to boost trade.

Councillors approved the 2016-2021 parking strategy at Barking Town Hall last night, doubling the existing free parking period across council-owned car parks.

Lee Blackmore, who owns Heath Pie Shop in Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, welcomed the move and hopes it will help his business recover after car parking charges were introduced in Fiddlers Parade in February.

“If there’s a lot of signs up saying ‘30 minutes of free parking’ that will get a lot of people back in,” he said. “We did want an hour and 30 minutes is a bit tight to come in and eat but you could just about do it.

“I’m more happy with that than not getting anything.”

The Golden Fish and Heath Pie Shop owners recommended an extension of free parking for shoppers months ago The Golden Fish and Heath Pie Shop owners recommended an extension of free parking for shoppers months ago

Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said the free parking, which will be introduced from December 1 ahead of the Christmas shopping period, showed the council had listened to traders’ concerns. He praised the strategy’s offer of an hour’s free parking at borough parks.

But Golden Fish manager Jason Aiken, whose chippy lost £2,500 withing five days of the introduction of Fiddlers Parade parking charges, says the strategy’s scrapping of cash parking payments will alienate customers who struggle to pay using the RingGo phone app.

“It’s a small concession and it goes a short way to solving a very big problem,” he said. “If they want to promote local shopping half an hour doesn’t give people time to visit local shops.

“They’re rolling out cashless payments but a massive proportion of our customer base doesn’t have access to those facilities.

“It unfairly penalises the poor, the elderly and people who aren’t technology savvy.”

Cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, Cllr Laila Butt, said the council has tried its best to find a solution that works for the majority.

“We know we can’t always please everyone but we hope people can see we’ve done our best,” she said.

A two month public consultation revealed 52.14 per cent of respondents aren’t “generally able to park fairly easily in the borough”.

And 48.72pc requested extra measures to improve car parks, including an end to “stupid” phone app payments, with one respondent adding: “Stop this ridiculous pay by phone idea. I do NOT have a mobile phone so how do I pay?”

The council plans to include card payments in its cashless plan.

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