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Issue 298 – Calls for free parking fall on deaf ears

Despite calls from Frome’s traders, the Chamber of Commerce, and MP David Heath for free parking in the town centre, Mendip District Council has told the Frome Times that there are “no planned changes” due to be made – except for increases in some car parks later this month.

Frome’s Chamber of Commerce is undertaking a survey amongst the town’s traders to assess the strength of opinion over parking. So far, over 50 traders have responded, showing an “overwhelming” consensus that free parking is needed in the town.
MP David Heath has joined the campaign urging Mendip District Council to provide free parking in Frome. He told the Frome Times, “This has been a longstanding issue in Frome – Mendip District Council does not seem to understand that you can’t keep business going in a town unless people have the opportunity to park.
“Instead, they seem to see their car parks as a way of constantly increasing their revenue. At the end of the day, this is a matter for Mendip District Council and I, as well as others, have made my views well known on the matter.”
Mendip District Council says that it will look at the survey when the Chamber of Commerce passes it on, but there are “no planned changes” regarding free parking in Frome. A spokesperson said, “There are a series of changes taking place on 26th April but there are no changes planned in terms of free parking.
“Because the changes are part of a restructure, as opposed to a review, the council was not required to carry out a consultation. People are able to pass on their views and they will be taken into consideration.”
Martin Short, president of the Frome Chamber of Commerce said, “We still have some more forms to receive, but the initial survey forms show that the businesses in the town are very much in favour of having at least one hour’s free car parking, or preferably two hours, in the car parks controlled by Mendip District Council.
“What has come out of the survey is that parking is a very important issue for the retailers because it encourages visitors to the town. For example, we’re finding that the Marks and Spencer’s car park now tends to be quite empty after the charges were introduced.
“We’re also finding that in this particular climate, these things make a big difference to businesses, and retailers are reporting significantly less trade at the moment.
“We were very pleased with the support we had from businesses. The survey showed that, overwhelmingly, traders would like to see one hour of free parking in the town. We can now approach Mendip District Council with sufficient backing from retail businesses, knowing that we have their support.”
Last month, the district council revealed a list of revised charges in its Frome car parks which will take effect from 26th April.
In some car parks charges are decreasing, but in others they will rise, and new charges are being introduced. There will still be no free car parking provision in any of Mendip District Council’s car parks.