Inner-city businesses are set for a much-needed weekend boost thanks to a move by Newcastle City Council and Newcastle Now to offer free parking on Saturdays at the King St car park.
Council will scrap the $7 parking fee at the Mall Parking Station from this Saturday until the end of the year, following a suggestion that came via a conversation on Facebook between CBD traders and Councillor Carol Duncan.
"A number of traders expressed in a Facebook conversation that providing free parking will help reduce the difficulty for shoppers of locating a car park on a Saturday, so offering the Mall Parking Station was a logical step given it's owned by Newcastle City Council," Councillor Carol Duncan said.
"This outcome is a great example of how Newcastle City Council staff and Councillors are increasingly using social media as a direct means of getting feedback and suggestions from the community.
"We might have to sometimes wade through a bit of nasty stuff, but a growing number of people have great ideas and express them in a manner that is both respectful and compelling."
Newcastle Now Chair Edward Duc implored local businesses to get behind the initiative by spreading the word to staff and customers.
"Newcastle Now is focused on promoting the range of services and experiences that local businesses provide and this is a great initiative to boost their Saturday trade.
"We are calling on small business to encourage staff to get their cars off the street and into the Mall Parking Station, freeing up hundreds of on street car spaces for their customers."
One Penny Black café owner Josh Gibson welcomed the move and said traders had been banding together to get through tough times.
"All the local businesses are working together at the moment to try and help each other, so it's good to know that the Council and Newcastle Now are looking out for us too by opening the car park for free," Gibson said.
"We're all doing it a bit tough at the moment, so hopefully things will really improve when the light rail construction is finished."
The Mall Parking Station is located at 92 King Street, below Christ Church Cathedral.
Under the partnership, Newcastle Now will lease the carpark from Council for a nominal fee each Saturday until the end of 2018, with Council staff continuing to operate it.