Car parking charges 'killing' trade

ANGRY shopkeepers warn that controversial new parking charges have led to a significant drop in trade and are “killing” their village.

Richard Smith

ANGRY shopkeepers warn that controversial new parking charges have led to a significant drop in trade and are “killing” their village.

Traders in Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, are now urging customers to get behind them otherwise they fear jobs will be lost.

It is the only village in the Suffolk Coastal area to be singled out by the district council for parking charges, which were imposed in two out of three car parks in April.

There are some spaces free for 15 minutes but this puts the village at a disadvantage to Woodbridge, Saxmundham and Leiston which allow 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, it now only has one free car park - compared to Felixstowe which has seven.

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More than 50 people packed an extraordinary parish council meeting in the village hall to voice their concerns.

It was told afternoon trade at The George pub is down 35% and the fish and chip shop has lost lunchtime business; The Teapot Tearoom had decreased trade in April and May and Hamilton Smith estate agents has noticed fewer people.

Quilters Haven shop sales were down 25% in May compared with April and June was 37% below April.

Karin Hellaby, owner of Quilters Haven, said: “The downward trend is resulting in a considerable loss in trade and income.

“One member of staff resigned in May and we will not be replacing her as there is not enough work in the shop. Another member of staff has had her hours reduced.”

She added: “One of our customers received a ticket even though the machine was not working at the time, and left a note on the car explaining this. This has caused a huge amount of bad feeling and we have lost yet another customer.”

Colin Tucker, a parish councillor, wrote to the district council and said: “Residents of nearby villages have told us how they and many others have stopped coming to the shops in Wickham. They now make longer journeys, with consequent increased carbon emissions, to the free car parks at Framlingham or to Tescos at Martlesham.

“The one remaining free car park, jointly serving the medical centre and resource centre/library is now full for most of the day.

“This makes it nearly impossible for the less-mobile or disabled to use these facilities. The introduction of a one visit per day sign for this car park makes it illegal for anyone to visit the medical centre in the morning and to return in the evening to collect a prescription.”

A district council spokesman said it looked forward to receiving the information compiled by the parish council.