BUSINESSES in Bognor Regis are hoping to set a new record with their free parking scheme.
The 2019 two-hour free parking discs were officially launched this week ahead of their start on January 1.
The current year’s version has been bought by some 27,000 motorists. The latest, grey-coloured discs are the first to be run by the town’s Business Improvement District board.
Everyone who buys one will also receive a free booklet for the first time with 18 coupons from town centre retailers to thank them for their support.
Its chairman, Paul Wells, said: “We hope to sell even more discs this year after beating the previous record by about 1,000 this year.
“The discs have been a major success story since they were launched seven years ago.
“I can’t stress enough the value of the discs to the town and the important part they play in keeping our town centre a lively place.
“Everyone you speak to uses the discs and use them time and time again.”
The discs entitle motorists to park for up to two hours without paying in three town centre car parks – Fitzleet (343 spaces and 24 disabled spaces), Lyon Street (61 spaces and five disabled spaces) and Hothamton (201 spaces and 14 disabled spaces).
The scheme costs about £50,000 a year in expenditure and loss of parking revenue. Various contributions come from Arun and Bognor councils and the BID board.
But Mr Wells said it was money well spent. “The free parking plays an important part in keeping our shop vacancy rate below the national average.
“They are key to keeping the viability of our town centre and attracting regular repeat visits from shoppers.”
Excess income from the discs, on sale at various outlets, is re-invested back into the town centre through various initiatives.
Arun councillor Elaine Stainton said: “The discs are a brilliant scheme to attract people into the town centre. I think Bognor Regis is on the up.
“We have had some nice restaurants opening and we need people to come here to do their shopping. It is so important to have a thriving town centre.”
Cllr Phil Woodall, deputy mayor of Bognor Regis, said: “The discs are well worth the money. Motorists can pay £1.80 to park in the town for two hours or they can buy a disc which will last for a year for £2.”
North Bersted resident Maureen McMillan, 84, has bought her third disc.
“Having free parking attracts me into the town centre and I know a lot of people who use the parking discs,” she said.
“Having a disc makes it easy to go to the shops. I usually go to the Lyon Street car park or to Hothamton, if I am going to Morrisons.”
Another regular disc buyer, Alison Stead, 50, of Bognor Regis, said: “It’s a great scheme. It’s handy when I want to nip into the town centre at lunch and get a few bits and pieces.”