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Darlington shop owner calls for solidarity over getting a better parking deal for town
A TOWN centre trader is calling on the Darlington community to show solidarity in trying to get a better parking deal for the town.
Beryl Hankin of Guru Boutique on Blackwellgate says that in 43-years of running her shop she has never known the town centre so quiet.
She believes that making all council-run parking spaces free on Sunday would help boost visitor numbers and is calling on Darlington traders and residents to contact her with their suggestions on how to improve the car parking policy.
Mrs Hankin will then compile all the comments into a dossier to present to the council.
She said: “There are still some lovely businesses both independents and nationals here in Darlington, but the present parking policies really are killing them.
“Something has to be done before it's too late.
“I have never known so many people in Darlington sounding so fed up and disillusioned.”
Darlington’s parking charges compare unfavourably to Middlesbrough where visitors can park for free for up to two hours every day, and the town is also competing with out of town shopping centres such as Teesside Park which boast free parking.
Mrs Hankin said: “I can understand where the council is coming from, saying they need the money to make up shortfalls, but I think they will have more trouble on their hands if our struggling independent shops have to close down because I think they are the strength of the town.
“Nobody has any money and that is part of the problem, but that is why we have to do as much as we can to bring people into the town.”
Darlington Council held a car parking consultation throughout September and the views collected will be put towards a scrutiny committee in December before being presented to the cabinet in January.
A spokeswoman said that although the consultation deadline has now passed, there is nothing to stop people from putting their ideas forward outside of the formal period.
She also confirmed that the council was committed to providing free parking after 3pm on the four Thursdays in the run up to Christmas but was awaiting final proposals from Distinct Darlington before it could confirm any other changes to parking charges over the festive period.
Anybody who would like to send their comments to Mrs Hankin can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a letter to her shop on 22 Blackwellgate.
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