Business booms after vandals smash parking meters

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Parking stock
Jonathan Brady/PA Archive

Vandals in the small Welsh town of Cardigan have inadvertently caused a retail boom after targeting parking meters in its central car parks.

Four pay-and-display ticket machines were damaged last month, and the council is struggling to find the £22,500 needed to repair them. As a result, visitors to the town have been able to avoid the usual £1.20 per hour charge and park for free.

Local retailers claim the increase in visitors has had a positive impact on businesses in the area, with shoppers staying for longer periods.

Keith Davies, a butcher in the town, told the Telegraph: "We've long campaigned for free parking, and while we don't condone the damage to the machines, the difference it's made is unbelievable.

"Instead of going out of town to Tesco or Aldi, people can stay in the centre for five or six hours without having to pay or worry about getting a ticket. They can go into shops then stop at a café or a restaurant without having to rush.

"I've seen trade go up by around 20 per cent but some businesses have seen an increase of 50 per cent, which is not only good for the traders but it helps make Cardigan a thriving place.

"It sounds like the machines will be out until September which means summer visitors will benefit too. We understand the council needs revenue from them but hopefully they will agree to increase the time people can park for free."

With local councils often accused of harming business in town centres with excessive parking charges, campaigners are hoping that the situation in Cardigan could be replicated elsewhere to tempt people back into shopping on their local High Street.

Do you think removing parking restrictions would be beneficial to struggling town centres? Have your say in the comments section below.