Havering Council commits to boost high street trade

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Havering Council has announced “significant investment worth millions” to help the borough’s businesses tackle the challenges of changing shopping habits and online competition.

The council also says that increased investment from central government, a cash boost from improved waste management and a better than expected surplus from parking fees will help to provide the investment necessary to address concerns about parking charges.

The changes will mean:

  • Free Sunday parking in all council car parks from April 1
  • 30 minutes free parking in more than 1000 on-street pay and display bays across the borough from April 1
  • 20% discount on all parking charges paid by borough residents using the new Havering parking app which is due to launch on May 1
  • Free parking for specified hours in the car parks of New Windmill Hall, Cottons Park and Lodge Farm Parks (*see notes to editors) from 1st April (all other parks remain free).

The high streets investment and changes to parking charges will be proposed at the Council’s Cabinet next week ahead of a full council meeting to agree the borough’s budget for the next financial year.

The changes to parking charges are being paid for through new council investment made possible because central government funding has increased slightly and returning money to residents from higher-than-expected income from pay and display machines and less waste being produced.

Havering Council leader, Councillor Damian White said: “It is brilliant news we are able to make a near £2million investment reducing our car parking prices to support the evolution of our high streets and our business. This has been funded by the first increase by government in the last 10 years after years of difficult decisions.

“This is fully funded and will not come at the expense of front line services and will not disadvantage our residents. This goes further than what we have ever proposed. Not only are we offering free parking on Sunday and 30 minutes free for on street parking, we are also offering 20% off parking in car parks for all Havering residents paying by our new app.

“To support this we will make significant investment in our high streets, measured in the millions, as well as attracting government funding.

“I know there has been some frustration about our car parking policies, which were implemented a year ago. We have listened and learned to what shoppers and traders have said and we have developed an affordable solution which gives shoppers a good deal and encourages them back to our high streets.

“We now have bigger issues to solve together than parking. Our high streets are changing and we need to make sure they change in a way that’s right for Havering.

“Our challenge to everyone is to use them. We will do more to promote our fantastic high street shops and services. By bus, bike, foot or car we’ll show everyone that they’re worth a visit. It will be up to residents to use them rather than out-of-town or internet shopping.”

The amendment to charges will be implemented if agreed at the council’s cabinet and full council meetings later this month, which will then mean the changes can take place in the next few months.

The council will also embark on further engagement with businesses to work together on finding solutions to the change in the high streets.

This will include working with Hornchurch businesses on the possibility of new parking bays to take advantage of 30 minutes free parking.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]