Hundreds of Swansea shoppers call for free car parking

As Small Business Saturday takes place in Swansea and across Wales this weekend there will be an opportunity for local, independently run businesses to be championed in the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


With it generally comes offers and discounts, with many businesses trying to encourage shoppers into the city centre, and free parking in many city centres on the day as well.


However, one campaign has gone a step further, and is calling for Swansea Council to allow one hour of free car parking in all of its city centre car parks throughout the year.


Craig Lawton, who started the campaign, has already had local businesses sign up to support the campaign. What is more, over 200 shoppers have signed the petition in the last week.


Mr Lawton said: “It is far too easy for shoppers to go to out of town shopping centres like Morfa or Fforestfach at the moment, with free and easy parking available.


“In comparison the city centre has very little free parking other than a bit of on-street parking for an hour. These spaces are at a real premium.


“If Swansea Council can do more to encourage people to stop for a short period of time, so that they can do a quick bit of shopping, pick up some lunch, or have a coffee, we could see the number of people shopping in Swansea city centre increase.”


Mr Lawton, the Welsh Conservative candidate for Swansea West at next year’s Assembly elections, has been meeting with shoppers and businesses to discuss his plans.

He said “A number of businesses have said they have noticed a sharp fall in their trade over the last few years as shoppers come into Swansea less and less.


“However many people have said they would consider coming into the centre of Swansea more often if there was an element of free parking.”


In the last week the petition, which calls on Swansea Council to allow an hour of parking for free in all of its car parks in the city centre, has received over 200 signatures, with many more local businesses still to hand their petition pages in.


Siobhan from Port Tennant, who signed the petition, commented “This would be amazing as sometimes my father goes into a shop which only takes five minutes but he has to pay for one hour which isn’t fair.”


Sophie, from West Cross, added “Surely the return of trade would help the local economy.”


Mr Lawton pointed out “Every year we are told that the foot fall in Swansea has increased when free parking, or extremely cheap parking, has been brought in for a weekend.


“My message to Swansea Council is very simple. If it works for one weekend of the year, just think of the benefits to our city, our businesses, and shoppers if we encouraged people to shop in the city centre all the time.


“Some of the people who come into Swansea as a result will stay longer meaning they will still pay for some parking while also supporting more city centre businesses.”


Last month the South Wales Evening Post reported that Swansea BID, which brought in free parking on Independents Day, in July, and on Small Business Saturday, confirmed that the number of people coming into the city centre increased by 30 per cent, while the average transaction value on those days in chops increased by 4 per cent which meant people were parking for longer and boosting city centre trade.


In recent years Newport, Neath, and Llanelli have brought in an element of free car parking to encourage more people back into their centres, while Cardiff has seen heavily discounted parking at certain times of the day.