Visitors to Newmarket town centre will be able to park for free from 3pm every Monday, at the start of next month.
The town has seen an increase in visitors over the past two years with an increase of 38,000 parking events.
That growth in visits has been partly attributed to West Suffolk Council’s work and investment to bring the market onto the high street and its work with partners to establish the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art as a regional visitor attraction.
Like many high streets, some retailers are struggling with the people going online to do their shopping. That is why West Suffolk Council has suggested holding a summit with business leaders and other stakeholders to discuss what the future of the high street might look like.
In the meantime, the council is launching “Free from 3 Mondays”, beginning on April 6 – the initiative is designed to encourage visitors into the town centre at one of the quieter periods of the week. The council consulted Love Newmarket Business Improvement District who asked for this to be introduced on Mondays.
Susan Glossop, West Suffolk Cabinet Member for Growth, said: “We recognise that while the evidence shows that people are increasingly using our car parks, that our high streets are undergoing a period of challenge and change. We are however confident that they will remain areas of economic, social and cultural activity, and we are delighted to be working with Love Newmarket for the benefit of the town centre and the various businesses that trade there.”
Peter Stevens, West Suffolk Cabinet Member for Operations, said: “The income generated from our car parks pays towards town centre services including CCTV and street cleaning, as well as the maintenance and staffing of car parks. The council also pays close to £1 million of business rates on its car parks and is one of the biggest contributors to the Business Improvement Districts in Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket and the work that they do to encourage town centre footfall and spend.”
Paul Brown, BID manager of Love Newmarket, Business Improvement District, said: “We recognise that the ‘Free from 3’ initiative has been very successful in Bury St Edmunds where it encourages people into the town centre at a period of the week that had been traditionally quieter. We are looking forward to promoting ‘Free from 3’ in Newmarket as part of our programme of activity to support businesses in the town centre.”
The council will also be investing £70,000 on resurfacing three Newmarket car parks – Grosvenor Yard, All Saints and Market Square while it will also spend a further £25,000 on making more electric vehicle charging points available in the town.