THANK goodness for the bus pass scheme which provides free transport for the tens of thousands of over 60s in the area.
For without them coming to Worthing town centre in their droves every day, shops would be facing a total disaster.
Just take a look at the car parks and you have the reason why they would fail.
Sky-high parking charges, the highest in Sussex (apart from two in Brighton, other than Churchill Square, I'm told), are preventing people from bringing their cars into the town centre, and the situation is just plain crazy.
We have some good shops in Worthing, we have traders who want desperately to see the town survive and prosper.
Worthing Borough Council claims it is a town "for business".
Fat chance when we have a policy – which unfortunately applies to nearly all the car parks here – which seems hell bent on squeezing the life-blood out of the town.
It cannot make any economic sense to have the town centre car parks less than half full most of the time.
The minimum wage is 5.52 an hour.
Parking for an hour in Worthing costs 1.60.
How ridiculous is it that the policy can see 29 per cent of the wage of a person living on the current legal minimum just to park a car!
I welcome news that NCP is reviewing some of its charges and considering a shoppers' "special" day with reduced rates.
How gracious of them.
The town's shop-keepers need help every day, not just one day a week.
Are the town's shopkeepers going to employ extra staff for just one day a week to cope with the extra trade?
Come off it NCP, let's see some action bringing car parking charges in line with Horsham and Chichester.
Worthing town centre shops are being kept afloat thanks to the area's seniors coming to the town centre on the bus.
They've also been helped by the poor summer weather that has kept people off the beaches and around the town centre shops instead.
Worthing Town Centre Initiative, the body charged with trying to improve the area, has a hidden camera which counts the footfall along the precinct.
It has recorded an 11.8 per cent rise this year compared with last.
People are still managing to get into the town centre, but it's no thanks to the parking policy.
So folks, keep coming into the town by bus, train, parking on the street, outside the controlled zone and walking in and keep using the shops.
But don't park in the car parks until the council and NCP come to their senses and make it cheaper to park, or better still, pull out of town.
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