Uppingham Town Council will continue to subsidise car parks

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A council will continue to subsidise a car park in Uppingham to keep charges low after businesses said it was helping trade.

Uppingham Town Council has voted to continue its agreement with Rutland County Council to pay the subsidy for the town’s car parks until the end of June, keeping the parking costs low for visitors to the town.

The £8,500-a-year payment agreement was set up in 2011 for the long and short stay car parks in North Street East and the site in Queen Street.

The council has consulted business and the results show 33 out of the 42 companies questioned were happy for the council to continue to pay the subsidy.

A total of 29 said the subsidy was likely to have increased or helped maintain footfall in the town and the success of their business.

However, none were prepared to make a contribution towards the cost.

Despite this, councillors voted to continue to pay the costs at a full town council meeting on Wednesday evening.

Uppingham mayor David Casewell said: “A lot of businesses have said the subsidy has had a positive effect on business and that they wish for the agreement to continue.

“But they’ve also said they are paying enough on business rates to help out financial.”

Coun Robin Schlich, who compiled a results table showing the amount of visitors who used the car parks and how long for, agreed that the subsidy was having a positive effect.

He said: “The subsidy is having an effect in that it’s bringing people into the town and they are staying longer.

“It would be a great mistake to stop the subsidy because we have a good deal and it’s bringing shoppers into Uppingham.”

The council also held a meeting with staff at the Co-op store which backs onto the car parks in North Street East.

Speaking at the meeting, store manager Frank Gerbino voiced his concern that if the council was to increase the one-hour stay cost of 20p to 40p he would lose customers. He also agreed with fellow businesses, that business rates were too high to help fund the subsidy payment.

From June, the council could decide to extend the agreement with Rutland County Council for another year.

The council has also asked the county council about the cost of buying the car parks.