Traders protest at parking fee rises
TRADERS in a seaside town have lodged a strong protest over proposed car park prices rises – fearing the increases will deter shoppers.
Shops in Felixstowe are reeling from the impact of a huge recent rise in business rates, the economic downturn and changes to visitor habits because of the new shared space.
“We are concerned that Suffolk Coastal council will incur expense in making the stated changes to disabled parking bays and accessible machines, as well as having to update signage to reflect the increase in prices,” said a chamber spokesman.
“This expense could be saved without changes, which may only encourage shoppers to use out of town outlets where they can park for free. We have therefore asked the council to consider putting the proposed increases on hold for another year in order for us to try to recover from what has been, and still is for some, a challenging trading period.”
Town councillors are asking for the rises not to be so great – pleading with Suffolk Coastal to make the increase for two hours from �1 to �1.20, instead of the proposed �1.50, and for 30 minutes from 40p to 50p, instead of to 60p.
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Labour councillor Mike Sharman said: “Some of the increases are 50 per cent – Crescent and Highfield Road are two very important car parks for the town centre shops and that sort of rise cannot be justified.”
Councillor Mike Deacon said: “I think we should do everything in our power to make Felixstowe a very welcoming place and it could be that the increase in car parking charges is just enough to tip that balance and stop some people coming here.”
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Suffolk Coastal said it was being forced to look at all aspects of its budget and district-wide changes would generate an extra �285,000 a year. Councillor Andy Smith said parking fees had not risen in six years and an occasional rise was better than yearly ones.