About 40 people, mainly representing town centre businesses, attended a meeting at the Guildhall tonight as part of the consultation about the parking plans for the town centre.
While some were only interested in scoring points it was mainly positive. Many good points were raised and it felt like a real consultation, where officers took on board positive proposals and were finding common ground where possible.
Among the concrete proposals that are emerging are plans to charge councillors and senior officers for the Guildhall car park, which is fair enough and could raise many thousands of pounds a year.
It's likely that the plans to charge 50p for the on-street parking bays could be abandoned, reduced or phased in later, which is a compromise that may satisfy small shopkeepers.
But there's a bigger picture that the parking charges are only a small part of - how we make sure our town centre serves the community better. That needs a comprehensive town plan that pulls together all the various interest groups and gets people looking out of their narrow silos.
One aspect of transport that wasn't touched on last night was the re-introduction of buses into the high street - which will be a boost in footfall for the independent traders at that end of town. Increasing congestion at peak times in the town centre also points to a park and ride scheme to ease the situation. This too would make the town more attractive to shoppers.
The need to enhance our unique markets is also key to revitalising the town centre - the council, as landlord, has been flexible but there's still a lot more to be done. If additional funding is to be raised through parking charges, perhaps a commitment that it will go to improving the town centre area would alleviate some of the concerns.