With its £4/hour rate during the week and £5/hour at weekends, NCP Car Park in Church Street has angered great swathes of the public but its latest move smacks of a company desperately short of a decent business plan.
The Argus has been awash with angry letters from visitors who park for four hours to go shopping or to the theatre and a meal at the weekend and return to find they owe £20 in parking fees or £25 if they happen to go a minute over 4 hours. The letters all have one thing in common: the authors vow never to return to the Church Street car park again and some, never to return to Brighton. This really hasn’t done anything to help the shops and restaurants in the North Laine or the theatres and entertainment venues.
Now, presumably in response to declining customer numbers, NCP is offering to let businesses in the vicinity park all day for £3.50 during the week until the end of 2011. The company is handing out flyers to offices and shops promoting the scheme and then it hand delivers a stack of vouchers to those businesses wishing to take advantage of it while asking them not to give them to their customers or clients.
This effectively turns what should be a visitor/shopper car park accommodating a continuous turnover of customers for shops and attractions in the Old Town into a commuter car park where 587 spaces will be occupied all day by the same 587 cars. Like the excessive weekend parking rate, this also does nothing to help the shops, theatres, restaurants etc in the North Laine.
The tariff of £3.50/day makes it cheaper than the average annual price of renting a city centre car parking space and, crucially, at first sight it appears to be cheaper than a return journey into town on the bus. Of course if the true cost of motoring is calculated including depreciation, insurance, road tax, fuel etc it isn’t cheaper than the bus but many people don’t take these factors into account and this scheme will encourage them to drive into work rather than use public transport. This too, doesn’t do much to help businesses in the city centre and flies in the face of the local authority’s efforts to tackle the single biggest complaint from residents: traffic congestion.
BUSINESS FORUM COMMENT
NCP needs to get a grip and come up with a pricing structure that delivers a sustainable profit for the company, a decent service for its customers and a benefit to the wider business community and the city as a whole.
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