OAKHAM Town Council has drawn up an action plan to help traders in the town.
Councillors have carried out a study to find out the issues businesses feel need to be tackled and topping the list of concerns was parking.
The council has now formed a working party to look at parking and will lobby landlords and estate agents to fill empty shops.
The council’s study is based on the responses of 64 traders who were interviewed face-to-face.
Coun Lorna Grey, of Glebe Way, Oakham, said: “The town council decided to find out if there was anything we could do for the local businesses in Oakham.
“What instigated it was the closure of RAF Cottesmore.”
She added: “Most of the local businesses felt that parking was a big issue in Oakham.
“They thought it was too expensive and wondered why charges have to be more on market days when they are trying to encourage people to shop in the town.”
The report says 35 per cent of traders in Oakham thought parking needed to be improved and 41 per cent thought it was too expensive.
The report found that on March 21 this year there were 17 vacant shops in the town centre.
At a meeting of Oakham Town Council last week, members agreed to lobby landlords and estate agents to make sure the 17 vacant shops are filled as soon as possible.
A working party will also request details from Rutland County Council about leasing the county council run car parks.
Uppingham Town Council recently spent £4,500 on subsidising the car parks in the town to make parking cheaper for visitors in the short-stay car parks.
Oakham Town Council will also be looking at ways to promote the town.
Coun Grey said: “We have taken
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over the running of the Oakham Heritage Trail from Oakham Town Partnership and have already decided to start giving out more leaflets so that people will come to Oakham and see what we have to offer.
“The general opinion of shopkeepers is they want to keep the smaller shops in Oakham because they want the town to keep its charm.
“We need more people to come forward and help us.”
When asked if they thought the closure of RAF Cottesmore would affect their trade, 76 per cent of traders in Oakham said they thought the impact would be detrimental to their business, with 16 per cent saying the effect would be serious.
Although only 23 per cent of traders thought the closure of Ashwell Prison would have a detrimental effect on trade. Of them, 17 per cent thought it would be serious.
To ease the parking situation traders suggested were a park and ride scheme, a roving car park ticket that can be transferred between car parks, more cycle racks and reduced parking charges.