Parking charges hit market business
By John HowardEIGHT market traders have pulled out of a town, sparking fears higher parking charges are killing business. A quarter of the market stalls in Stowmarket have left since Christmas and market officer Neville Tye feared that unless Mid Suffolk District Council cuts the parking charges, many town businesses could die.
By John Howard
EIGHT market traders have pulled out of a town, sparking fears higher parking charges are killing business.
A quarter of the market stalls in Stowmarket have left since Christmas and market officer Neville Tye feared that unless Mid Suffolk District Council cuts the parking charges, many town businesses could die.
Just before Christmas there were 32 market stalls in the town, but that number now stands at just 24.
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Family-run town centre shop Seasons, which sells botanical gifts, is also closing down, with the owners saying the car parking tariffs were the final nail in its coffin.
Mr Tye, who took over as the town council's market officer last year, believed a seasonal fall off in trade was partly to blame, but he was frustrated at the range of higher car parking charges that came in to force on April 1.
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Despite warnings from Stowmarket's business community, district council leaders said a budget deficit of £1.57million meant the rises had to be introduced to raise cash.
Mr Neville said: “Something has to be done to reduce the charges, otherwise the town will die. I have been working my socks off to try to get more people in.
“There has been a noticeable drop off in people coming through the market, partly because of the car parking.
“I have spoken to traders in the town and they confirm people are not coming in as they used to. This is so disappointing.”
A spokesman for the town's chamber of commerce said the business community was extremely worried and felt action needed to be taken to reverse the car parking charge rises.
Roger Saunders, leader of the Conservative/Independent-run district council, said: “I very much regret losing market traders.
“People like knocking us, fine, but it is not entirely down to us. It's also the town council making it much more difficult for traders to stay there as well. Why did they increase the rent on pitches?”
The market is held on Thursday and Saturdays, but it is not all gloom for Stowmarket.
A new specialist farmer's market, held for the first time recently at the Museum of East Anglian Life, attracted more than 800 shoppers and will be repeated on June 4.