Crafty Vintage, a leading advocate for independent businesses across Lancashire, is proposing a new by-law to enforce payment for parking at out-of-town retail parks surrounding Blackburn, Accrington and Preston.
The proposal is aimed at levelling up the playing field for local retailers, who have been struggling to compete with large supermarket chains and other retail giants located in out-of-town retail parks such as Whitebirk and Deepdale.
The by-law, if approved, would see car park charges of just £2 being applied at all out-of-town retail parks, including large supermarkets such as Aldi and Tesco. The funds raised from these charges would then be invested in culture and entertainment in the town centres, providing an additional incentive for shoppers to visit local retailers.
Crafty Vintage argues that the current trend of shopping at out-of-town retail parks has had a detrimental impact on local retailers, particularly small independent businesses. The convenience of these out-of-town retail parks, combined with free parking, has drawn customers away from the town centres, making it difficult for local retailers to compete. But the effects are not limited to just local businesses.
Out of town shopping also has negative effects on the environment and society as a whole. Supermarkets and retail giants are known for exploiting farmers by paying them less than the actual cost of production. They also encourage the throwaway culture that is harmful to the environment, through fast fashion and single-use plastics.
Additionally, the rise of out-of-town retail parks has contributed to the breakdown of community pride. When people shop locally, they feel a greater sense of connection to their community, and their spending supports local jobs and infrastructure. The decline of the high street can lead to boarded-up shops, graffiti, and a general lack of pride in the local area.
Relaxing parking times in town centres is another aspect of Crafty Vintage's proposal. This would allow shoppers to relax and not worry about fines, ultimately helping small local independent businesses to retain customers.
The proposal has garnered support from local business leaders and has been successfully implemented in other counties. However, it has also sparked a debate about the impact of self-service checkouts in large supermarkets, which Crafty Vintage argues put local folk out of jobs and undermine the original claims of employee numbers made by supermarkets when granted planning consent.
If the by-law is approved, it could be a game-changer for local retailers across Lancashire, providing a level playing field for local businesses to compete with larger retail chains. The proposal is an innovative solution to the challenges facing local retailers and is sure to spark further discussion about the role of local businesses in the modern economy.
Crafty Vintage has pioneered the Shop Local campaign across Lancashire, recognising the importance of supporting small businesses and strengthening local communities. The award-winning event production company organises regular social gatherings and pop-up events where like-minded folk can meet, socialise, share ideas, gather inspiration and sell their unique artisan wares.