A FULL-THROTTLE attempt to drive more visitors into Stratford town centre has been launched by council chiefs.
Parking at Stratford’s park and ride will be free throughout the summer, while ticket prices will be reduced and the bus service run longer into the evening, seven days a week.
The scheme has been set in motion by Warwickshire County Council in tandem with Stratford District Council and follows recent criticism levelled at the parking situation in the town centre by councillors themselves.
Members of SDC’s Cabinet recently gave the go-ahead to a swathe of parking increases at car parks across the town, in line with inflation, as well as a hugely unpopular plan to introduce charges at Fisherman’s car park on Warwick Road.
At the same meeting councillors also gave the go-ahead to the reintroduction of concessionary parking permits for the town’s pensioners but not before criticism was heaped on the parking situation and the knock-on effect it was having on people visiting the town.
Coun Kate Rolfe said that residents in her ward had told her the parking charges were leading them to shop in Leamington, Wellesbourne and even Banbury instead.
While Coun Jenny Fradgley pointed out that Stratford was the only market town in the district to charge for parking.
Coun Andrew Crump raised the concern that due to the cost-of-living crisis other groups of people, particularly families with young children, could be more in need of concessionary parking than other groups.
Up until September 17, Stratford park and ride, on Bishopton Lane, will be providing a seven-day a week bus service and free all-day car parking for visitors. Previously the park and ride did not operate on a Sunday and parking would have set motorists back £3.
The bus service has been extended to finish later in the day, with the final bus leaving Stratford to return to the car park at 7.28pm.
Adult return bus tickets have been reduced to £2 and include up to two children travelling for free, and return group bus tickets cost £3.30 for up to five people.
Alternatively, visitors can park their car for free at the park and ride car park and enjoy a stroll or cycle into the town centre using the canal towpath.
Stratford ward member Coun Tim Sinclair said: “I am delighted to see that this activity is taking place. Stratford park and ride is a great facility with the ability to remove a decent amount of day tripper traffic, and consequently reduce congestion, in Stratford town centre.
“I hope that as more people experience the benefits of using Stratford park and ride as a convenient, user-friendly, and low-cost service, that it will become a default option for those who plan to visit Stratford both now in the summer months and in the long-term future.”
For more information visit warwickshire.gov.uk/stratfordparkandride