Thursday, 6 September 2012

Free Parking

For the next two months, you can park for free in Camborne. It is part of a new deal that has been struck by shops and traders in Camborne who are really pulling together to boost the town’s prospects and it is an idea that I have long wanted to see piloted properly in Cornwall because, if it works, it could drive broader policy on car parks in Cornwall. It is great to see Camborne leading the way with such creative thinking.

Cornwall Council car parks are not taking part in the scheme at this stage but the privately owned Trevithick Road Car Park behind Argos is. So make sure you go to the right one! The free car park is really close to the town centre and you can park there at absolutely no cost for the first two hours at any time of the day. To access the car park, you just have to turn down Wellington Road opposite Camborne Church and then, at the end, turn up Trevithick Road to the rear of Argos (there are unfortunately barriers which prevent vehicle entrance from the front).

Traders in Camborne have created what is called a “Business Improvement District”. In effect, all of the shops group together and contribute to a central fund that they can use in any way they choose to promote fresh ideas to get people into town. Solutions range from better marketing to improving the townscape. So far, the Camborne BID team have introduced free car parking, run a series of children’s activities over the summer and persuaded the Co-op to decorate the exterior of their building by Camborne Church.

A couple of years ago, I organised a conference on town centre regeneration. I think it is really important that, as we push forward major regeneration projects like Heartlands in Pool, we also ensure that our town centres are not forgotten and that we do all we can to make them vibrant public places. Sometimes this can involve regeneration through building new, modern retail space in the heart of towns to bring in larger retail chains and increase the footfall which helps everyone. One of the best ideas I have heard for Camborne is that the bus station be moved nearer the train station and the current site used to create a new retail hub in the heart of the town.

But quite often, we need to think afresh about what our town centres are for. Where building modern retail space is less of an option, we need to look at other options to make them vibrant public spaces with restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. Full marks to Camborne’s shops for showing some initiative and if you have not shopped in town for a while, why not try it while you can park for free!

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.