Parking Mad

May 1, 2009 4:12 PM
In Yellow Advertiser
Shop owners Lin Heath, Nigel Clark and Sarah Barnes take a stand against the higher parking charges.

Shop owners Lin Heath, Nigel Clarke and Sarah Barnes take a stand against the higher parking charges.

SHOPS will suffer if the council stops free parking at its staff car park on Saturdays, according to Lib Dem councillors.

They are backing retailers to oppose Brentwood Council plans to put up parking fees overall, and end the present no charge arrangement at its own Ingrave Road car park.

Their leader, David Kendall, led a 'fact finding' team - including retailers - on a trip to the car park, on Saturday.

He said: "The vast majority were horrified and said the changes could stop them coming to shop in the town, especially if they can go elsewhere and pay less - or nothing.

"We have opposed plans to increase parking charges all along and think it is an especially bad time to do this, when businesses are struggling to cope with the recession anyway," he added.

Lib Dem members from the local authority are circulating a petition through local shops, which they plan to present to the council.

Nigel Clarke, who runs The Hair Company in Crown Street, said: "Clients are only too happy to sign the petition. They are angry about the proposed hike in charges and feel they pay enough already.

"Many point out that neighbouring councils have cut their fees - but not Brentwood.

"Increasing fees is bad enough, but stopping the free parking at the council staff car park on Saturdays is going to be a real killer.

"Shoppers used to park there and then spend time browsing, having a meal and bringing money into the town."

The Essex Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has already warned that the council's parking policy could see shops having to close.

Louise McKinlay, who chairs the highways panel and takes over as council leader in May, said: "We are actually trying to draw people into the town with a programme of improvements to make it more attractive."

Brandon Lewis who is stepping down as leader defended the parking policy and said: "Lower fees would benefit outsiders coming to the town as well. We aim to help our residents."