Town centre pay and display will drive the shoppers away
HERE at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) we are very concerned to hear about the planned changes to on-street parking — especially for many of the market and coastal towns in Devon. This issue has been raised with us at a number of local district council meetings we have held recently. District councils are concerned they can do little about county council parking policy, except watch their high streets die.
Shoppers will be driven away by plans to introduce pay and display parking on town centre streets.
The thought that many Devon towns will become ghost towns has already been raised by business leaders and traders across the county when the county council plans were announced earlier this year. At that stage we understood the county council would consult with all parties concerned, and carry out comprehensive impact assessment plans of putting in 'pay and display meters' in the various towns concerned. We now discover that instead of listening to the business community, it is going to consult with county councillors on the planned 'on-street' parking charges. We consider this to be purely and simply a revenue raising exercise by Devon County Council.
This on-street parking charge will hit the hard pressed shop owner the hardest. Research from the FSB's Keep Trade Local campaign shows that as soon as parking costs go up numbers of people in towns goes down, and in addition the number of shoppers at local out of town stores (where parking is free) is increased.
High street traders are already being hit hard by competition from both the out of town stores and the internet.
Instead of making the competition even harder, Devon County Council should be doing its upmost to help them. Leave our remaining High Street alone, unless of course there is a genuine acceptance by the local business and shopping community, that a traffic management system would improve the shopping and trading experience of their town, and 'on-street' metering would effectively pay for that management programme.
Devon Policy Chairman
Federation of Small Businesses
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