Hitchin parking ‘free after three’ scheme to be considered

VISITORS to a town centre where car park charges are more expensive than anywhere else in the district could soon see a reduction in the amount they’ll have to pay, in a bid to encourage trade.

Hitchin BID members are looking at implementing a “free after three” scheme for visitors to the town in the near future.

Council owned car parks in Hitchin are more expensive, on average, than its counterparts in Letchworth GC, Baldock, Knebworth and Royston.

And, out of the �1.2m that North Herts District Council (NHDC) makes a year from car park charges, �700,000 comes from Hitchin.

Speaking to the Comet ahead of a meeting on Wednesday with fellow Hitchin BID members, town centre manager Keith Hoskins said that the free parking after 3pm scheme was likely.

“We can’t afford to do every car park, but we’ll be looking at the two closest shoppers car parks - St Mary’s and Biggin Lane,” he said.

“We’ve got to do it [subsidise car parking] – it’s part of the BID plan. It’s the only area we haven’t delivered on yet.”

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Mr Hoskins, who received car park usage figures from the district council earlier this month, also said he also wanted to pursue cheaper parking for employees at another time.

“That’s a big issue,” he said.

“I’ve already said retail is not the best paid of employment. Two or three pounds a day for parking after tax income is a lot. Then there’s a knock on effect on residents’ streets where people park instead.”

He added: “We’re not going to bring in a scheme and that’s that. We need to keep it under constant review and try to understand the issues.”