Parking concern

SIR - RE: On Street Parking Charges

In a letter to Councillor Stuart Hughes I said, here, at the 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.

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, you are 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.

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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.

Pete Ashton

Devon Policy Chairman FSB

137 St Marychurch Road, Torquay