Opinion divided over 15 minutes free parking in Barking and Dagenham

London Road multi-storey car park (Pic: Google)

London Road multi-storey car park (Pic: Google) - Credit: Archant

Motorists will soon be able to enjoy up to 15 minutes of free parking across the borough, as part of a new trial aimed at boosting Barking and Dagenham business.

The trial begins on September 7 at pay and display car parks.

Cllr Laila Butt, cabinet member for crime and enforcement, said: “We thought we would trial a new project aimed at helping shoppers save some money and at the same time boost local businesses.

“We hope it pays dividends for drivers and shopkeepers.”

Those wanting to stay more than 15 minutes can pay for a ticket through RingGo on their phone so they do not have to return to the car park.

The announcement follows lobbying by the Chamber of Commerce, and although the group had been campaigning for a 30-minute free period, president Mark Bass is pleased with the compromise.

“We welcome the sensible, mature attitude,” he said.

Most Read

“It’s just about enough time to pick up essentials – bread, milk, a paper perhaps – but we’ll continue to campaign for half an hour.

“With Redbridge offering up to 30 minutes free, we certainly don’t want people saying they’ll pop up the road instead.”

But not everyone believes the new policy will have much of an impact for businesses.

Former market trader Jason Omotoye, 33, of Gurdwara Way, opened a Caribbean restaurant in Barking earlier this year, and insists the council needs to do more.

Opinion was divided among readers with 54 per cent saying they would be more likely to go shopping in the borough.

Number5 Buspassenger tweeted: “So there will also be a guarantee of no queues in the shops?

“Wardens will have a field day with unintended overstays beyond 15 minutes.”

Donna Hagger posted on Facebook: “It’s a great idea. But not long enough.

“At the minute I pay three times a week at the car park next to Abbey Leisure Centre just to pick my daughter up.”

Stuart Coulsell wrote: “15 minutes is pathetic. Be bold council.”

Havering Council introduced a policy of 30 minutes of free parking from April, and Cllr Robert Benham, Havering’s cabinet member for the environment, insists the scheme has been a success.

“It’s very helpful for those who need to quickly visit a local shop,” he said.

“Those who want to park for longer are charged one pound for two hours and a full day costs eight pounds, discouraging commuter parking, which blocks spaces and contributes nothing to the local economy.”