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Marlborough High Street

Free parking fails to boost trade, as workers nab the spaces

It was touted in some quarters as a solution to the market town’s economic woes, but this week members Marlborough’s business community said all-day free parking had actually damaged trade… because shop and office workers were nabbing all the spaces.

Paid parking was suspended on Marlborough’s historic high street – the widest in Britain – while it was resurfaced.

The eight week, £400,000 project is due to be completed on September 15 – two weeks ahead of schedule – but traders were cheering this week after the covers were lifted from the pay and display machine.

“The problem in customers finding parking spaces during the road works was because free parking was used by shop keepers and other commuters working in Marlborough who drove in and parked free in the high street all day,” one shopkeeper told the town’s Chamber of Commerce, which recently surveyed its members over the impact of the resurfacing.

“Staff are elated as they get to park for free, and also generally nearer to their work. But only those that are on an early shift. Those staff arriving for a later shift are invariably late for work, as they can’t park anywhere,” said another.

“Meanwhile, customers in outlying villages have stayed away, and those that do make the effort to come in struggle to find a parking space,” he said.

A third admitted: “I’m fairly familiar with lots of peoples cars and I’d say it’s mainly those working in town and residents using the free parking.

“I myself did for a few days and then realised I was simply taking a space of a potential customer.

“It’s interesting that people think all the cars are people shopping in town.”