Traders welcome free parking pilot scheme for Ballyclare

Darren Black.
Darren Black.

BALLYCLARE Chamber of Trade has said it hopes a free parking pilot scheme will be the start of much more initiatives to attract people into the town to shop.

On Tuesday (March 5) the council confirmed that for the month of March parking in The Square’s 41 spaces will be free every Saturday.

Chamber of Trade president Darren Black said he hoped the scheme would attract more shoppers into the town to sample the wide variety of what it has to offer.

He said: “This is a big positive for trade in the town and hopefully we can make the most of it for the next couple of weekends.

“It is important that we act quickly to help business in the town. A lot of people travel to out of town shopping centres which have free parking and we have to look at why - people clearly do not want to pay for parking.

“Here in Ballyclare we have 150 businesses offering a wide variety and we have to work to attract people into the town and one way of doing it is by introducing free parking.

“Obviously there is a lot of work to do and we would hope the Roads Service might consider a similar scheme for the Harrier Way car park.”

He added: “We will be surveying this over the coming weeks and see what it does for business in the town and for overall footfall.

“We are always proactive on promoting the town and what it has to offer and this scheme showcases what can be done when traders work together with councillors and we would be hopeful this would be the start of much more to come.

“And I would like to thank all involved who helped to make this happen.”

The Square car park is owned by the council, however, the Roads Service operate the paid-for element in the facility.

Lisa O’Kane, the council’s tourism and events manager added: “We are keen to explore options to improve the vitality of Ballyclare as a shopping destination and this is a chance to see if offering free parking benefits businesses in the town.

“We will be working closely with Ballyclare Chamber of Trade to assess uptake of the scheme and will make formal proposals to Roads Service for a long term solution for Ballyclare based on our findings.”

The council is currently running a ‘Spend Local, Save Local’ campaign to promote Glengormley and Ballyclare town centres.

Full details of all the offers availalble at participating businesses are available at www.newtownabbey.gov.uk/savelocal.

Any business wishing to list their offers should email savelocal@newtownabbey.gov.uk.