U-turn on free hour of parking in Cornish town

Vicki and Andy Brett, who run Dogsbodies pet shop, in the New Road South car park
-Credit: (Image: Lee Trewhela)

People power and the efforts of a Cornwall councillor have ensured a free hour's parking has returned to a "dying town". The move follows concerns from traders that the loss of the free parking was stopping people visiting the town centre - with at least one shop even closing down as a result.

There was hell up all over the county when Cornwall Council introduced new higher tariffs at its car parks last year. However, Callington was particularly badly hit - data showed that parking in the town decreased noticeably after a £1 charge for the first hour was introduced in the busy New Road South car park.

The parking controversy was exacerbated by a unique sore point. When Co-op was based next to the New Road South car park, it subsidised the first hour's parking so people could pop in and shop there and elsewhere free of charge. When Co-op left and B&M moved in, it didn't continue the offer. The rise in charges on top of the loss of that free hour worsened the feeling of unfairness in the town.

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Following the move, shop owners told us the decision was "killing Callington" and leading to a "dying town". The Victoria Eyton card and gift shop closed last September citing the impact of the loss of the free hour's parking as the reason.

There is now good news for Callington, although sadly too late for Victoria Eyton. The first hour of free parking will return to New Road South car park thanks to six months of negotiations, organised by the town's Cornwall councillor Andrew Long.

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Cornwall councillor for Callington Andrew Long inside the town hall with its murals painted for the eclipse in 1999
Cornwall councillor for Callington Andrew Long -Credit:Olivier Vergnault / Cornwall Live

He said: "I am so pleased to be able to advise that I have managed to bring back free one-hour parking starting on July 1. I would like to thank Cornwall Council and the Co-operative for being willing to enter into negotiations and would urge all people to start using the service and we can begin the fight back for our town."

Cornwall Council verified that the first hour of free parking in the New Road South car park is being funded by the Co-op, which owns the neighbouring B&M building. A spokesperson said: "The council has worked with all parties to successfully re-negotiate the historic agreement with the owners of the retail premises to fund the free hour of parking that had lapsed following a change of tenant and Covid lockdowns."

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The news has been greeted enthusiastically in Callington with a Facebook page dedicated to the town including comments such as "brilliant news, the town really needed this" and "we will visit more often now".

Vicki Brett, who runs Dogsbodies pet shop opposite the car park, has been outspoken in the past about how much of a negative impact the charge was having on the town's businesses including her own. She told Cllr Long: "On behalf of Dogsbodies and all the small businesses in Callington thank you for your perseverance. I hope people from far and wide will return to Callington."