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Blow For Local Businesses As MSDC Slash The Annual Festive Free Parking Period

3rd December 2020 | By Peter Chapman

Mid Sussex District Council have controversially slashed the amount of free parking offered in their car parks on Saturdays during the month of December, citing Covid-19 safety as the reason.

It's been a long-standing tradition to offer free parking after 1pm to help encourage people to come and support the local traders in the run-up to Christmas, but in 2020, parking will only be free after 3pm - which leaves a very small window for people to shop and will more than likely rule out visits from those living outside the area.

With a number of 'non essential' businesses forced to close for 4 weeks due to the second national lockdown, you would have thought that Mid Sussex District Council would have perhaps extended the free hours, not cut them!

The decision is all the more strange considering MSDC were running a campaign, urging people to shop local this year! Shame they couldn't back up their words with real action.

MSDC have produced a few social media videos this week, one about the re-opening of the leisure centres and one celebrating new footpaths in Burgess Hill, yet Stephen Hillier - the cabinet member for local economy, has not appeared in a video to shout about the great Christmas free parking offer. I think we all know why!!!

In a press release issued by MSDC, Cllr Hillier was attributed as saying:
“We always support our local shoppers and traders with discounted parking charges in the run up to Christmas, but the coronavirus pandemic means we’ll be doing things a little differently this year.

“As our local shops have been closed throughout November, the December trading period could be a busy one. We want to encourage shoppers to spread their visits out as much as possible, so we can maintain a Covid-19 secure shopping environment in our town centres.

“The use of our car parks drops dramatically after 3pm in the winter because it starts to get dark and temperatures plummet. So, we’re encouraging more people to shop during this time by offering free parking after 3pm.

“By shopping at a quieter time, not only will you save money, you’ll be helping to spread town centre visits out throughout the day, making it safer for everyone.”

So MSDC want to avoid a rush of shoppers....by cramming the free parking into just 2 and a half hours when most shops are still open, instead of the usual 4 and a half hours. All day free parking would have been safer!

Maybe this has more to do with MSDC having to massively subsidise the leisure centres at the moment and therefore they can't afford to offer any free parking? Surely they'd have been better off not announcing anything at all?

Judging by the comments on the MSDC Facebook post about the 'offer', the public are not impressed and let the local authority know exactly what they think!

Spread the word! MSDC are only offering a few hours of parking on Saturdays during the Christmas period.

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