Last week’s opinion piece ‘Pandemic will shape how we live and work in the future’ by Richard Scase makes interesting reading. Working patterns have changed for large numbers of people and working from home, at least some of the time, is certainly going to be a feature of many office workers’ lives. Not having to travel to offices has benefits but can also leave people feeling isolated or struggling to find space for paperwork and laptop in what may be already cramped living conditions. If we can offer these new locally based home workers flexible and affordable access to office spaces – underused council office space perhaps? – then the local economy can benefit from money spent in our city at lunchtime and after work that previously would have been spent in London or on petrol and fares.
Shopping habits too have changed – and with online shopping here to stay, our high street needs to offer leisure, social activities and other experiences as well as the traditional goods from shops.
Equally, our World Heritage buildings and fabulous city walls and gardens could be so much more enticing for visitors if only they were encouraged to spend more time exploring and enjoying what we have to offer.
In order to entice workers, shoppers and visitors to energise and stimulate our city centre economy, I propose the City Council takes the bold step of abolishing Park and Ride charges. Removing at a stroke a major incentive to drive into the centre, we can clean up our environment, move more quickly towards our carbon neutral target and breathe much needed life into our city centre. Many people say that out of town shopping centres offer a soulless experience but at least the parking is free. Well, why not beat them at their own game? We could have a city economy full of pedestrians who have flocked here from across the county and beyond to enjoy the city and spend their money – a better way of filling the council coffers than the current stale failed formula of ever increasing parking charges.
Labour and Co-operative candidate Westgate
Old Watling Street