Lets talk about Parking….. or not!

Parking, it’s a big thing – we can all agree on that. You can pretty much guarantee that  when we go to a new Totally Locally town to give a talk, a workshop or a masterclass parking will be brought up as ‘an issue’.

So bear with us, grab a brew and a biscuit and we’ll explore parking as another part of our sporadic Elephant In The Room blog posts.

Totally Locally and the Totally Locally kit are a different way of doing things in a town, a new way of thinking, about businesses collaborating, promoting each other, talking the town up (not down) – yes OK, we get that, but how does that relate to parking – well, we literally park it, so to speak.

You see, towns have been talking about Parking, Dog Mess, Business Rates and the rest for 30 odd years and they’ll be talking about them for the next 30. And that’s the thing, they are talking about them, suggesting to the Council how things could be improved, having a meeting or a workshop. Then a few new shops open, they’re all enthusiastic and they join in with the cycle – but generally nothing changes – other than a lot of energy is used up on thinking, talking, surveying, workshopping, bringing in consultants to talk about parking ad infinitum. But does anything ever get done?

We’re not saying that these things aren’t a potential problem but its easy to blame something that is seen as a barrier and someone elses responsibility as the reason why the town isn’t as busy as you’d like it to be or ‘the grass is greener’ syndrome because a neighbouring town is 20p an hour cheaper so that’s why people aren’t in town.

Totally Locally isn’t about revisiting the old common issues as they generally won’t change just because a new group of enthusiastic businesses and residents get together BUT what you can do is use that energy and enthusiasm to promote your town to its residents, getting them to come back into town, do some shopping and create some life and buzz. And that’s what the Totally Locally kit helps you to do through a professionally designed marketing and PR campaign.

If you’ve read this far here are some of our FAQ’s on parking:

Parking is too expensive, no one will pay that much
Free parking is what we need, no one will pay for it
Supermarkets and their free parking are killing us
My customers just want to pull up outside, get what they need and go again
There isn't enough parking in town, we need more spaces

The situations above are a few of  the most common complaints we hear about parking in town centres. We know a few of our replies may read as a bit too flippant but they are meant to be. We really believe that the parking argument in 90% of towns in the UK can be shelved and the energy put to better use talking about the great independent shops and businesses in your town, creating events and markets to give people a reason to come into town. Once they (re)discover the great place they live they won’t begrudge paying for the parking.

If there is a common thread in the successful towns that we work with it is that parking isn’t talked about anywhere near as much as it was before they started on their Totally Locally journey. It hasn’t been fixed in 30 years of talking about it, its highly unlikely it will be fixed in the next 30 either – but you can do an awful lot of other things in those 30 years.