Two major events and the introduction of free weekend parking have given Wigan town centre a huge boost.
The council is taking a £250,000 hit by scrapping charges on all of its borough car parks until at least the new year in a bid to reverse a retail decline.
And this coupled with two big festivals at the Galleries shopping centre, which the authority bought back from private ownership earlier this year, have led to an increase in the numbers of people coming to town by thousands.
The local authority teamed up with borough firms Nwcc Event and Haigh Foodie Friday to deliver the highly successful Comic Con and Food Fest on the Square.
On September 1, Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Guardians of the Galaxy actor, Spencer Wilding, made an appearance at the town centre’s first Comic Con.
The event saw an increase in footfall of almost 6,500, meaning it was The Galleries’ busiest day of the year yet.
And, following the accomplished format of Haigh Foodie Friday’s monthly festival at Haigh Woodland Park, residents were treated to street food, drink and entertainment in Market Square on Saturday September 22, which led to a footfall increase of 3,500 people.
Authority leader Coun David Molyneux said: “We know that people enjoy coming to the town centre and it has now become much more of a social space than in previous years.
“Habits are changing, so we’re looking at all the ways that we can capitalise on this and diversify our offer to match what people want.
“Holding events like this in The Galleries demonstrates our commitment to breathing new life into the shopping centre and is just the beginning of what could be possible in the future.
“The free parking has also made a huge impact and has proven to be an incentive for people to come into the town centres. In Wigan, we saw an increase of more than 400 cars across just two council car parks after the first weekend of the offer. We are extremely confident that this will only increase.”
The successes of each event haven’t gone amiss by the public either with residents showing support on social media. Speaking about Food Fest on the Square, Gareth Jones said: “Absolutely excellent from Wigan Council, actually encouraging custom to the area instead of trying to pull it away. Brilliant.”
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