VIDEO: Free parking plans put in place at last

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More than two months after they were approved, some of the £250,000 worth of measures to boost the town centre have finally been put in place.

From today (Tuesday August 27) shoppers were at last able to enjoy free parking from 8am to 10am – and use bays free for 30mins – as part of a trial for the next six months, estimated to cost £80,000.

Cllr Geoffrey Smith and Machine Operator Paul Townsend.

Cllr Geoffrey Smith and Machine Operator Paul Townsend.

“Hopefully these measures will increase footfall in town instead of going to the outskirts for shopping,” said Cllr Geoff Smith, in charge of regeneration in the borough.

Business owners can now also now apply for a grant of up to £1,000 each from a £30,000 pot to pay for light repairs in a bid to improve the look of the town centre.

Along the same lines, a cherry picker made its way along Bath Street last Wednesday to clear out gutters at a cost of £6,000.

But critics say landlords should be paying for their own repairs

Cllr Smith said: “It’s all about encouraging owners to maintain their properties.

The grants pay for 80 per cent of the work – landlords or business owners must find the rest.

“It’s about kickstarting work to make the town look better.”

Last week the ‘Tiser reported that a schedule of events, including a soap box derby up Bath Street on Bank Holiday Monday, which was also approved in June, never went ahead.

Councillors reassured readers that the £34,000 put aside was ringfenced and they hope to start some of the events later this year.

But townsfolk, including chairman of Ilkeston Independent Traders David Vipond, said they were ‘disgusted’ at the council’s lack of action.

Councillors also approved 80 hanging baskets – 40 each for Ilkeston and Long Eaton, costing £4,000 and boarding to cover up empty shops including a competition for children to make artwork at £3,000.

But these measures are yet to be brought in.

Some ideas that were not approved in June but earmarked ‘for further investigation’ included a shuttle bus up Bath Street and new ‘Welcome to Ilkeston’ signs.