Co-op: free parking could ‘limit damage’

Sharon Flint outside Ilkeston co-op.
Sharon Flint outside Ilkeston co-op.

Free parking has been mooted as a way of easing the harm done to Ilkeston by the closure of the Co-op department store.

Some smaller firms will move onto the ground floor which will be shared with the foodstore and Ilkeston’s main Post Office as well as a cafe, it has been revealed.

Details were given at a meeting of a Scrutiny Committee of Tory-led Erewash Borough Council, which was discussing ways of reviving Ilkeston and Long Eaton town centres.

Chairman of Ilkeston Chamber of Trade Sharon Flint urged the council to provide some free parking near South Street, pointing out that facility is available at the other end of town.

At Lower Bath Street, free parking is allowed outside shops and the stores back on to a large car park, which is also free. This scheme was launched when shops were being brought back from dereliction thanks to cash handouts.

Two car parks stand near South Street but motorists have to pay and chiropodist Ms Sharon Flint said: “It is rather unfair and rather biased.

“A lot of small businesses rely on small amounts of money on a regular basis. People will not pay 60p to buy a 70p cauliflower in a local shop or 60p to make an appointment at my clinic.”

She added that Co-op officials were already in talks with firms who rented space on upper floors, encouraging them to remain in the building.

Labour’s Cllr Clare Neill said it was important for the council to help with this and also suggested some could move into nearby vacant shops.

“We don’t want to see those concessions lost to Ilkeston and there could be some dispensations offered to them,” she told the committee.

Cllr Howard Griffiths backed car park charges but said they should reflect the cost of operating them.

“Under financial pressure, councils tend to use parking charges as a way to subsidise their other activities. Car parks should not be a milk cow,” he added.