Save Our Town urge Luton fans to shun C&R car parks and not boycott the Mall

Luton fans protest against Capital & Regional
Luton fans protest against Capital & Regional

Campaigner group Save Our Town have urged Hatters fans not to carry out a proposed boycott of the Mall, but instead avoid the car parks owned by Capital & Regional.

Earlier this month, C&R, who own the Mall, formally applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review into Luton Town's plans for a mixed use scheme at Newlands Park.

The Hatters had been given the green light back by Luton Borough Council back in March for the development, which is essential to help finance a new stadium at Power Court, but now face another delay and an anxious wait for a judge to decide whether or not the case will receive a hearing.

Hundreds of Town fans have vowed never to step foot inside the Mall again in protest at C&R, but Save Our Town, a group set up to support the club's plans to regenerate the town, didn't think that would be the best cause of action.

A statement on their website said: "It stands to reason that local people are furious that Capital & Regional – the London and Johannesburg-based owners of The Mall shopping centre – have applied to the High Court for a judicial review over Newlands Park despite our council giving it the green light in March this year.

“We know from the thousands of you that support us on social media and our website that there are many people so fed up that they are looking for what they can do next.

“While the legal proceedings – that could cost Luton taxpayers between £500,000 and £1million to defend – are in the hands of lawyers and judges we’ve had many people contact us calling for a boycott of The Mall.

“Many of you may already have done this long before the frustrations around Newlands Park because the current town centre just doesn’t provide what you need.

“So we fully understand that people are so furious that they no longer want to step foot inside that shopping centre. If this is already the case that is your prerogative.

“However we will not support a boycott for one simple reason – it will not affect Capital & Regional. Not in the slightest.

“A boycott would only affect the businesses in The Mall and therefore its employees many of whom are our friends, family, neighbours and fellow Lutonians.

"We look after our own in this town so that’s not something we can do in good conscience.

“Capital & Regional however don’t make their money from the amount you do or do not spend in the shops. They make most of their money in two ways.

“One is from rents so if one shop closes down or ships out they’ll just replace it with another.

“The other way that C&R squeeze Lutonians for our hard-earned cash is through their car parks – and they make a small fortune from them.

“According to their annual report across the UK in 2018 – from car parks for their eight shopping centres – they made £10.7million.

"This increased by 2.3 per cent from the previous year which increased 7.2 per cent from the year before that.

“The cash they make from car parks is around 12 per cent of their annual revenue but perhaps more startlingly given that very few overheads will be incurred in that activity their car parks probably account for around 40 per cent of their total profit of roughly £25million.

“So while we won’t support a boycott of The Mall we as a group and individually have decided to completely shun the Central car park Library car park and Market car park.

“Instead we will be using the car park at Power Court opposite the Parish Church by the traffic lights.

“For one it’s owned by Luton Town Football Club who have demonstrated time and again under their 2020 board that they care about our town.

“But parking at Power Court will also cost us less.

"On Saturdays and Sundays the busiest shopping days of the week we can park all day at Power Court for £2.40.

"At The Mall’s car parks the same option will cost us £8, and Power Court is cheaper during the rest of the week too or with a match-day deal offered by the football club.

“To put it in perspective we estimate that if each one of C&R’s 1,724 spaces across the Market Central and Library car parks went unused on a Saturday alone it would cost them £13,792 every week (that’s nearly three quarters of a million pounds a year).

“We won’t give them a penny of our money and will avoid The Mall’s car parks like the plague. We believe this is a decision that is in the best interests of OUR town….and our pockets.

“We trust our supporters will come to their own conclusions when it comes to town centre parking.”