Parking penalty could be scrapped in bid to improve Fareham town centre

PLANS Traders want to attract more shoppers to Fareham
PLANS Traders want to attract more shoppers to Fareham
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PARKING penalties could be scrapped in a bid to bring more shoppers to Fareham town centre.

And a new website designed to entice shoppers may also be set up.

The two ideas came up as traders met council leaders to discuss how £100,000 of cash from the government’s High Street Innovation Fund could be spent.

At the meeting yesterday, the council unveiled an action plan which includes removing the £25 penalty charge for parking for more than five hours, and reviewing parking options in the town.

They are also planning to build a dedicated town centre website with information about what Fareham has to offer.

Ros Baxter, owner of Razzamatazz in West Street, said: ‘The bit that makes the most sense and would be the most useful to traders in Fareham is the town website.

‘Before people can get in their cars and come here, people can see what shops there are.’

Council leader Cllr Sean Woodward said: ‘Overall I’m very pleased. It was very positive.

‘It’s important we are taking these actions before we become a failing town centre.

‘The first things we will probably see are the website development and changes in terms of the parking.

Cllr Woodward added: ‘We need to make more investment. We need a destination town – something that will bring people down that end.’

But Julia Howard, owner of Beauty Solutions in West Street, said work also needed doing to improve West Street in the town, which has struggled recently, with lots more empty shops appearing.

She said: ‘We have been here for 10 years. The difference between the town centre and West Street is getting bigger.

‘There are more empty shops up our end. For small independent businesses, we can’t afford to advertise on a website. We are, at that end of town, in a recession.’

A survey from a cross-section of businesses in the town centre showed that people feel Fareham is still relatively vibrant with a good range of shops, popular markets and a good range of places for leisure and eating and drinking.

But many also felt that there were weaknesses in the town centre, with expensive and complicated parking.

They also felt that the town struggles in its location between two major cities, and that Fareham could struggle when the new Whiteley shopping development is open.

The council will consider the next steps for the action plan at an executive meeting in September.