IT IS “crazy” and “incredibly disappointing” not to offer free parking in the run-up to Christmas, business people have said. 

BCP Council will not offer free parking at any of its car parks and on-street spaces along high streets. 

The authority has said it would cost £200k in lost income – money that “will be spent on other initiatives” - if it did.

Peter Sebbing, a landlord with property on Post Office Road, Bournemouth town centre, said it is “crazy” that the council will be going ahead with scrapping free festive parking like last year.

Bournemouth Echo:

“The council doesn’t realise [it] will lose money when shops have to close because people will not be visiting them,” he said. 

“Around eighty per cent of business is done at this time of year and the council will be losing money they would otherwise get from the businesses. 

“It’s sad to see Bournemouth change in the way it has done.”

Read more: No free Christmas parking in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Meanwhile, Martin Davies, chair of the Bournemouth Town Centre BID, said it is “no great surprise” free parking will not be offered this year “given the state of local government finances”. 

“However, while we recognise the challenges the council faces, it is still incredibly disappointing that there will be no concessions for 2023,” he added.

Bournemouth Echo:

Paul Kinvig, the Town Centre BID’s chief operating officer, added: “Christmas is one of the most important trading periods for our levy payers, especially in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, because it provides a buffer against the traditionally quieter time in the early part of the year. 

“I know the 700 plus businesses we represent will share our sense of frustration and disappointment.” 

Fiona McArthur, head of Bournemouth Coastal BID, called on shoppers to “keep it local” for this year’s Christmas.  

Bournemouth Echo: Bournemouth Christmas lights

She said: “The news that BCP Council will not be offering shoppers parking concessions in the lead-up to Christmas is no big surprise given their current financial position.   

“Limited free parking in the lead-up to Christmas has always been an added incentive to visit local shops and businesses during the months of November and December.   

“Whilst we appreciate that savings need to be made, it is important not to forget the economic benefits that our businesses bring to residents and the local economy.” 

She added: “There is no substitute for visiting our local shopping areas, seeing our beautiful Christmas lights, entertainment and the stunning window displays to soak up the festive atmosphere.” 

Poole BID, meanwhile, said it is “disappointing, but not a surprise, considering [the council's] financial position".

"Free parking in the lead up to Christmas has always been an incentive for visitors and appreciated by levy payers. 

"However, Poole is very accessible by bike, train, and bus. Morebus has reduced price bus fares at just £2 with buses arriving every few minutes into the town centre."

As reported, Cllr Mike Cox, portfolio holder for BCP Council’s finances, said the decision to scrap parking was made last year. 

He added that the council has to prioritise the most vulnerable in society, including children and old people, when it comes to spending.