Free Car Parking But Read The Small Print

A campaign run by Cornwall and Devon Media Group, which publishes the papers West Briton, Cornish Guardian and Cornishman wants to help promote town centres by encouraging people to use them. This initiative is to be welcomed and I hope it will really encourage more people to use the town centres. Cornwall Council is supporting this campaign by allowing ‘free’ car parking in some of its car parks on the 29th February.

The way the free parking works is you will have to buy one of this week (23rd) papers I mentioned before. Inside those papers are a voucher which you will have to display in your car on the 29th February to receive free parking. It also only covers certain car parks (All Helston and Porthleven car parks are included). There is however a long list of excluded car parks. My advice is to check before you park and leave your car, as you will more than likely receive a parking penalty if you parked without a voucher, in a commercial vehicle, or in an excluded car park.

I have two problems with the Cornwall Council side of this offer.

The first one is why Cornwall Council is giving preferential treatment to one group of commercial papers. It would have been far better to offer this deal to all the local papers in Cornwall. These other papers have at one time or another have run campaigns to help town centres. Furthermore this could be seen as Cornwall Council putting other papers at a commercial disadvantage, and helping to increase the profits of one company over another. Is this right for a council to be doing this? I feel a council when dealing with any news organisation (and business) should be equally fair to all.

The second one I have is many car parks are excluded. This could lead to confusion and misunderstanding. Confusion and/or misunderstanding might lead to a parking fine, which will ruin anyone’s day, especially if they thought it was free! After all, the council is not technically losing any revenue because it is a leap year day. Maybe it would have been far simpler to just say it is free in all car parks for one day? Sometimes I think the council struggles with the concept of keeping it simple.

I do believe any campaign that encourages people to use a town centre is good; if Cornwall Council is involved it should be treating everyone equally. If the other papers turned down the offer to take part then that is fine. However, other papers where not asked at first which is a mistake (though some other papers are now printing vouchers).

Maybe the only way any campaign will work is everyone working together. In this case important parties have been left out. I hope these left out parties do not take it personally……


  • Gill Martin

    It could work out cheaper just to pay for the car park and not the paper, depending how long one wants to stay in the car park.

  • Gill Martin

    Perhaps Cornwall Council should run a campaign to encourage people to shop in the town centres by giving a franchise to a bus company other than ‘First’, so that the fares are more reasonable and the bus actually makes it as far as the town centres before breaking down, or choking the passengers with the on board fumes. With the one bus every two hours routes it might be nice if the passengers got to the town centres whilst the shops were actually still open. It would be additionally nice if they managed to supply correct timetables at bus stops, and had staff in Truro bus station that do not moan that they have given out 3,000 Helston time tables and do not have any more. if they cannot even provide a correct timetable then it does not bode well for the services they are supposed to run. Then people wonder why internet shopping is popular and why the town centres suffer.

  • Richard Best

    On a point of information, Andrew: we approached the council with this, our idea and asked for free parking to help make the day a success. Another newspaper has since said to them that they would like to run the same offer and the council has agreed with no hesitation and it is indeed doing so!
    I don’t think it is fair to say the other papers were not asked – we had the idea, we asked, and the council wanted to be helpful and agreed to take part. I am fairly certain that other newspapers would not want to take part in what is in essence a campaign we plan to run for months. Likewise, though, if other media have an idea it doesn’t necessarily follow that we would want to jump on their bandwagon.
    Of course there is commercial competition between different media houses in Cornwall, but on the whole it is all friendly competition and we wish one another all the best. So thanks for the indignation, but I think it is a bit misguided on this occasion.
    We’ve tried to make the exclusions as clear as possible and ran lists of all included car parks last week. In addition the exclusions are printed on the voucher. I am not entirely sure how the council reached its decision on which car parks to offer FOC – you would have to ask them. But we’re all trying to do something decent here!
    Richard Best
    West Briton

  • Gill Martin

    I think I get better value for money buying the ‘Packet’ newspaper.

    Incidentally, some people may photo copy the vouchers and share them around, it may be difficult to spot a photocopy through a car windscreen.

  • Andrew Wallis

    Thanks Richard for the reply. I think you may have misunderstood me. I welcomed your campaign and as someone who has been dealing with car parking for a while I understand the pressures town centres face not only from free supermarket shopping, out of town centres and the Internet.

    My concern and point is the council being seen fair to all parties. In fact in my last paragraph I said maybe the only way we solve this issue is all working together.

    The other point I made is keeping the whole process simple as if not, tickets could be issued for not displaying a voucher. This concern has already been raised at CC.


  • P. Acket

    I purchased the West Briton purely to get the car park voucher and then found it did not include my local car park, so that was a waste of money.

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