The local newspapers of the Cornish and Devon Media group have started a campaign to get people to value their town centres more. As part of this, they have teamed up with Cornwall Council to offer a free parking day in towns across Cornwall on February 29th.
Both the campaign and the free parking are very good things. But my understanding is that Cornwall Council's first reaction to the approach from the newspapers was to worry about the loss of revenue. This shows once again how they view town centre car parks as a cash cow rather than a service and how they have built their budgets around a certain level of income (and other services like road safety schemes get cut when they don't achieve their parking targets).
I'm glad that Cornwall Council eventually decided to participate in the scheme and I hope that local people will make the best possible use of the offer - coming to our town centres and doing their shopping there. Many local shops have a huge amount to offer at reasonable costs, but they usually don't even get a look in as people are content to make a single trip to a supermarket and do all their shopping there.
I hope also that Cornwall Council take a look at the usage of the car parks during the free day (albeit a Wednesday in February) and think again about the ever rising cost of car parking. Of course we cannot afford them to be free all day, every day. But if the charges were more reasonable then we might see a lot more people using them and actually end up with more money coming into council coffers. Better for both the Council and the town to have 100 cars at £1 than 25 cars at £2.
I hope that the newspaper campaign is a success and I hope that everybody possible takes advantage of the free parking day on the 29th February by getting hold of the token that will be published in the Cornish Guardian, West Briton or Cornishman.