SOME Bournemouth businesses are offering their customers cost-saving incentives to come into town before Christmas following a council decision not to provide free parking.
One womenswear shop is giving £5 vouchers to customers who use town centre car parks, while a restaurant is making parking spaces available for the duration of its diners’ time in town.
Roberta Boutique, in Westover Road, said it would give vouchers to anyone who pays to park in a town centre car park any day until Christmas Day.
READ MORE: NO free Christmas parking in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole this year
Owner Catherine Gosney said “Every other shopping destination in the conurbation has some level of free parking – Westbourne, Southbourne, Castlepoint, John Lewis at Branksome, Ringwood, Wimborne and, of course, all the retail parks. We are greatly disappointed that the council have withdrawn the little bit of free parking that Bournemouth town centre always used to enjoy.
“Whilst we wholeheartedly support measures to increase cycling and walking, the fact remains that for most of the year Bournemouth is a wet, windy and hilly town. There are simply not enough people willing to cycle in the rain, up and downhill, to do their shopping to support the local economy.
“Shoppers rely on vehicles for personal safety, protection from the weather and for transporting goods home. The local economy cannot survive without this demographic, so instead of pushing these people away, we urge the council to conduct a review of their car parking strategy with a view to making facilities safer and more accessible, affordable and sustainable.
“We are lucky; we have loyal customers who travel from all over the country to shop with us. But we also know just how many other town centre businesses are struggling to survive in a trading environment that the council are making considerably more difficult.”
The restaurant Urban Garden, on Exeter Road, is offering customers free parking after 6pm and at weekends.
Owner Mark Cribb said it had spaces for around 50-70 cars which are used by office workers at other times.
A Facebook post said the offer applied to diners “whether you are coming for the panto, the ice skating, the Christmas market, the movies or just for some great food and drink with us”.
Customers are asked to request parking when they book their meal online and collect a permit when they arrive.
The incentives mirror those offered by Beales in Poole, which will refund customers the £2 price of two hours’ parking if they spend £40 in the store on Thursday evenings and Sundays.