Free after 3: Bishop's Stortford BID offers free parking for shoppers in Causeway car park from 3pm on Tuesdays
Bishop’s Stortford BID is giving the town centre a new year boost with a free parking offer for shoppers.
The business support organisation, to which traders pay a levy, is funding spaces in the short-stay Causeway car park from 3pm every Tuesday for three months, starting on January 11.
The aim is to encourage people to come into town on their way home from school or work or to stay a little longer.
As an added incentive, the BID will, subject to Covid-19 restrictions, be hosting a series of mini-events on Tuesday afternoons including performances by street musicians, character visits and free classes.
BID manager Gina Thomas is also collating discounts, special offers and promotions from shops and services as part of the efforts to drive footfall to the high street.
The provision of free parking has been central to the BID’s business plan since it launched in October 2018. The latest 'Discover and Save' offer follows a month-long trial from April 12 last year, as the third national lockdown, imposed on January 6, eased and non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen.
The latest 'Free after 3' scheme follows tricky negotiations with East Herts Council to find a way to accommodate the parking offer alongside the authority’s sustainability aims.
However, the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on Bishop’s Stortford’s commercial heart have only strengthened the BID's resolve to help.
Gina said: “By funding car parking on a Tuesday afternoon for three months, we hope to encourage more visitors to our town centre. With the extra time, we hope it will be an opportunity to discover and enjoy a little more what’s here.
"Whether it’s to enjoy a film at the cinema, visit the gym, shop, have a coffee with a friend, tea with the kids, have your nails done or more, there’s plenty to do.”
The BID board ruled out funding long-stay car park places and decided that offering free bays in Jackson Square multi-storey could exacerbate congestion.
Shoppers who use the Causeway payment machines to check in for a flexible visit will be automatically checked out at 3pm on Tuesdays to ensure they benefit from the free parking offer along with those who would normally buy a pay-and-display ticket. The machines will be bagged during the offer period.
The Causeway, with 241 spaces, offers drivers free parking for up to 30 minutes at any time of the day and overnight from 6.30pm to 7.30am. Charges begin at 80p for an hour and continue at £1.60 for 2 hours, £2.20 for 3 hours, £2.90 for 4 hours and £3.60 for 5 hours. Shoppers could save up to £2.90 if they park for the BID-funded maximum of 3.5 hours.