Waltham Forest traders welcome free parking scheme

First published in News East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

SHOPKEEPERS experiencing a boost in trade have welcomed a free parking scheme, but believe more could be done to raise awareness of it.

Waltham Forest Council introduced the 15-minute free parking initiative in all voucher-parking bays across the borough at the start of December to encourage shoppers back to their local high streets.

And independent retailers say business over Christmas has got better because people no longer fear getting a costly parking ticket if they are just popping into the shops.

Val Golds, who opened V&A Books and Gifts in The Avenue, Highams Park, with husband Andrew in November, said trade has improved because of the free parking.

She said: “People are being attracted back to the area because they can park for free. It’s really helped us, we’re very pleased with how it’s going.

“For shoppers who know what they want it’s a real benefit. They come in and ask for two calendars or a certain book and pop off again, even browse a little, it’s quite convenient.”

But she added that many customers come in expecting to pay for a voucher, and said more visible signage than the signs on the ticket machine would help raise awareness of the scheme.

Owner of Forest Cafe in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, Alie Forest, agreed, claiming few of his customers knew about the initiative.

He said: “It’s good, we’ve seen more business because of it. People can nip in for five minutes now where there was no chance before. But not everyone knows about it. They should tell more people, that would help us more.”

It is the same criticism levied at the authority by traders in Station Road, Chingford, after it was introduced there in July 2011, though the council claim the reason they rolled the scheme out borough-wide was because of its success in Chingford and Leyton High Road.

Ahsam Hussain, assistant manager of Monarch Sports, in High Road, Leytonstone, said it was a boost at a time when the shop is competing with large chain stores.

He added: “People who come in now get a chance to look around and aren’t rushing out in a hurry. They get to see everything else we sell too.

“However, it could be advertised much better, in our shops and on noticeboards, because the way people find out is by ringing us up looking for places to park for free.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We have advertised in Waltham Forest News and have had it covered by the Guardian, but a lot of awareness is by word of mouth.

“We want to encourage people to shop locally and this is an excellent way to do that.”

Comments (6)

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3:28pm Sat 29 Dec 12

mdj says...

'“We want to encourage people to shop locally and this is an excellent way to do that.”

Translation: ' We have temporarily stopped punishing people for shopping locally, but not for long, in case they get the idea that common sense might become generally expected. We anticipate some lucrative fines, maybe even some juicy £250 tow-aways, when people fail to realise that this scheme is not permanent, and lower their guard.'
'“We want to encourage people to shop locally and this is an excellent way to do that.” Translation: ' We have temporarily stopped punishing people for shopping locally, but not for long, in case they get the idea that common sense might become generally expected. We anticipate some lucrative fines, maybe even some juicy £250 tow-aways, when people fail to realise that this scheme is not permanent, and lower their guard.' mdj
  • Score: 0

5:30pm Sat 29 Dec 12

Dave mp says...

How true mdj, BEWARE
How true mdj, BEWARE Dave mp
  • Score: 0

11:37pm Sat 29 Dec 12

SXH says...

Very true.
Very true. SXH
  • Score: 0

2:58pm Sun 30 Dec 12

stickmanny says...

why would you use a car to shop locally
?
why would you use a car to shop locally ? stickmanny
  • Score: 0

6:36pm Sun 30 Dec 12

JackDaniels says...

stickmanny wrote:
why would you use a car to shop locally
?
For the same reason many busy parents over park and park illegally near local schools - pure laziness. Welcome to the 21st Century, land of the ME society.
[quote][p][bold]stickmanny[/bold] wrote: why would you use a car to shop locally ?[/p][/quote]For the same reason many busy parents over park and park illegally near local schools - pure laziness. Welcome to the 21st Century, land of the ME society. JackDaniels
  • Score: 0

7:34pm Sun 30 Dec 12

BruceG says...

"Click!"

That's the sound of me shopping outside Waltham Forest. Whatever it was will be delivered in a day or two.

If I want to shop the old fashioned way it's off to Bluewater (much nicer that Westfield or Lakeside IMHO), free parking and a warm, dry environment - most pleasant, all in all.

Can't think why I'd want to shop in Waltham Forest, as it seems unpleasant when compared with the alternatives.

Might make an exception for bread and milk but little else.

Commercial reality. Beat that.
"Click!" That's the sound of me shopping outside Waltham Forest. Whatever it was will be delivered in a day or two. If I want to shop the old fashioned way it's off to Bluewater (much nicer that Westfield or Lakeside IMHO), free parking and a warm, dry environment - most pleasant, all in all. Can't think why I'd want to shop in Waltham Forest, as it seems unpleasant when compared with the alternatives. Might make an exception for bread and milk but little else. Commercial reality. Beat that. BruceG
  • Score: 0

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