BUSINESS bosses are calling on Renfrewshire Council to boost trade by changing car parking charges in Paisley town centre.
James Pollock and Barry Morris opened the Time for Bed store in Causeyside Street, Paisley, 10 weeks ago but have found that a lot of people aren’t coming into the town centre to do their shopping because of the high cost of parking.
Now they’re urging council chiefs to do more to encourage people to shop in the heart of Paisley.
Barry said: “We’ve got branches in Shawlands and Castlemilk and we were looking for somewhere else to open. We chose Paisley because it’s the biggest town in Scotland and has a good catchment area.
“We thought people in Paisley would come into the town to shop. Now we realise we were very wrong.
“We understand the council don’t want the town centre to be congested but there has to be a balance somewhere.”
James added: “Paisley is the biggest town in Scotland and it should be a tourist town as well, with places like the Abbey to enjoy, but people drive by Paisley to get to Braehead.
“Buying something like a bed is a big financial commitment for people and they don’t want to be rushed into it. We’ve had several customers who’ve had to leave the shop to return to their car because they’re worried about getting a parking ticket.
“I know the council abolished car parking charges at weekends in the run-up to Christmas last year and we hope they do that again.
“I came to park in the town over the September weekend and I thought it would be free but it wasn’t.
“Bank holidays are traditionally very busy retail days, so it would really help if the council would look at scrapping parking charges then.”
Paisley politicians Wendy Alexander, Hugh Henry and Douglas Alexander visited the Time for Bed store to hear James and Barry’s concerns.
And they are urging the council to address the issue.
Ms Alexander, who is the MSP for Paisley North, said: “Times are tough but there’s a strong case for the council to look at free parking starting before Christmas.
“We have to look at what our competitors are doing. People can park in Clydebank and Dumbarton for free, as well as at Silverburn and Braehead.”
Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Mr Alexander added: “It makes sense to park the charges this Christmas. All the signs are that Christmas will be tough for local people and retailers.
“We need to pull together with common-sense measures to ensure people get into the town centre and do their shopping here.”
And Mr Henry, who is Paisley South MSP, said: “There needs to be flexibility and imagination to encourage people to come in on days like bank holidays and other big shopping days.
“The council needs to make it easier for people to come into the town centre for two to three hours.”
A council spokesman said they have worked closely with local businesses to put together a parking strategy designed to make Paisley an attractive place for shoppers.
He added: “The system of charges is specifically designed to ensure there is a steady turnover of spaces near the main shopping centres so that visitors, rather than commuters, can park.
“The council’s parking charges are in line with other similar-sized towns but it needs to be remembered that two-thirds of the town centre car parking is privately owned and managed.
“This is a factor which also has to be kept in mind in respect of the free parking staged in the run-up to Christmas.
“If the council were to allow significantly longer periods of free parking, Paisley would simply become a huge park and ride for people travelling to Glasgow to work and shop.”