The car parking reimbursement program will be extended until Christmas

A Cannock Chase Council parking ticket and discount voucher. Photo: Kerry Ashdown.

The three-month parking refund scheme, which ended last month, offered visitors to Cannock and Rugeley town centers a £2 refund on their parking ticket if they spent at least £10 in a participating company. And businesses that signed up received a £500 grant from the council to pay for parking reimbursements and other costs.

The Cannock Chase Council cabinet heard on Thursday that take-up of the scheme was lower than expected, but it has been well received by traders as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

They called for it to continue as Christmas approaches and for the minimum spend to be reduced from £10 to £5 to encourage more customers to take part.

Cabinet members agreed at Thursday’s meeting to extend the parking reimbursement until the end of the year. The minimum eligible expenditure will be reduced to £5, but the grant paid to businesses will also be reduced to £250.

Funding for the scheme comes from the Additional Restrictions Grant provided to the council by the government to support businesses affected by coronavirus restrictions such as closures over the past 18 months.

Deputy Chief Councilor Bryan Jones said: ‘Businesses, predictably, were very grateful for the £500. It hasn’t increased revenue or footfall that we would have liked, but it has been a lifeline for these businesses.

“The approach of Christmas is a very important factor for me. The money is there, let’s spend it.

Council Leader Olivia Lyons said: “I find it somewhat disappointing that turnout was lower than we had anticipated, but after reading the comments the quotes are very positive. There seems to be greater participation where companies have come out to promote the program themselves.

“Listening to business feedback is most important and traders have indicated that it is worth extending, especially in the run up to Christmas and after going through the pandemic.

Rugeley Councilor Justin Johnson said he was disappointed to see footfall in the town by shopkeepers was lower than in Cannock. He urged more Rugeley businesses to join the scheme.

“From what we heard, it worked well and it should work well for them,” he added. “There are warnings about Christmas goods being held up in southern ports so when people go online in November or December they won’t be able to buy what they want.

“What are they going to do? Go to town. And if they know they’re going to get free parking as well, that could really benefit our local merchants.

“I think it’s imperative that we support the motion and if we can market it better as well, that can only help.”

A firm report revealed that 34 Cannock companies and 15 Rugeley companies had participated in the pilot programme.

He added: “At the end of week 12 of the 13-week trial period collectively, a total of 762 £2 parking refunds have been processed by participating businesses. This equates to £1,524 in refunds given to business customers; Cannock: 650 refunds equivalent to £1,300.00. Rugeley: 112 refunds equivalent to £224.00.

“The data shows that many of the refunds were made by a small number of businesses in each of the city centers. In addition, the analysis shows that there was no significant effect on the levels of ticket redemptions made on market days.

As part of the terms and conditions, companies had to enter the value of each transaction related to the redemption of the voucher. Transactions had to be worth £10 or more. Collectively (there were) a total of £36,951.28 in sales from the 49 companies; Cannock: £28,132.46 sales, Rugeley: £8,818.82 sales.

“It is difficult to say whether the above transactions are solely due to the parking lot reimbursement initiative, or whether these sales figures would have occurred even if the pilot program had not worked. Additionally, if the comparing only the total number of transactions against the total amount of grants awarded, the program was successful in generating additional business.”

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