Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chiefs Extend City Parking Plan to 2019; Scheme Is Helping Boost Retail Sales

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chiefs Extend City Parking Plan to 2019; Scheme Is Helping Boost Retail Sales

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Warburton Chief Reporter? 0191 201 6276 ? dan.warburton@ncjmedia.co.uk

A FLAGSHIP scheme designed to drive business into Newcastle's retail outlets and pour millions into the city's economy has been given a six-year extension.

Fears had been raised that the city's Alive After Five programme - which provides free parking between 5pm and 8pm - could face the axe as sweeping council cuts were enforced.

But business improvement company NE1 has agreed to plough extra funds into the initiative which has seen a PS157m boost to the city's economy in just two years. Last night Sean Bullick, chief executive of NE1, said the initiative had been extended to 2019 but would be subject to a successful renewal ballot vote among the city's businesses in October.

He said: "The benefit of Alive After Five goes far beyond the retail sector. The city's universities and professional services companies benefit from having a more cosmopolitan and attractive city centre offer for their employees and students, and the city's bars, restaurants and cultural venues also benefit from the free parking after 5pm element of the initiative.

Free parking has always been highlighted as absolutely critical."

The Alive After Five scheme has seen an extra two million additional visitors attracted to Eldon Square alone after 5pm in its first year.

It's estimated that shops on Northumberland Street experienced an increased footfall of 7% last year against a national average of 2.9% decline for towns and cities. And it's thought that retailers experience between 15 and 20% of their incomes between 5pm and 8pm.

Since the scheme was first introduced in 2010, NE1 has shouldered a 50% share of the PS300,000 annual lost revenue to the council, but will now pay PS200,000 of the bill. …

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