Parking charges will force Stevenage shops to close - claim

IMPOSING car parking charges in Stevenage Old Town will lead to the closure of shops already struggling to survive the economic downturn, a concerned businesswoman has predicted. Earlier this month Stevenage Borough Council s executive agreed that charges

IMPOSING car parking charges in Stevenage Old Town will lead to the closure of shops already struggling to survive the economic downturn, a concerned businesswoman has predicted.

Earlier this month Stevenage Borough Council's executive agreed that charges should be introduced in off-street car parks, including the Waitrose car park, and on-street parking spaces along both sides of the High Street should be made short-stay.

But an Old Town worker, who did not wish to be named, has contacted The Comet, concerned the changes will spell disaster for small businesses.

She said: "One of the major benefits of the Old Town has been the free parking. If people have to pay, they may just as well go to the main town.


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"With the economy the way it is at the moment, why hit the local small businesses which are struggling to survive as it is?"

She said businesses will be charged more than �400 per year per car for a parking permit, and these costs could "push them over the edge, resulting in more unemployment and turning the Old Town into a ghost town with many empty shops".

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She also said many employees would not be able to afford the parking fees, and that short-stay parking would not provide enough time for certain customers to conduct their business.

"Residents in the Old Town are fed up with commuters parking there, and businesses say they lose customers because of it, but why restrict parking to two hours?

"Why not make it six hours? It's ample time for everyone, except commuters."

As part of the parking changes in the Old Town, the council's executive has also agreed that the lorry park on Primett Road should close and be turned into a long-stay car park.

The council's overnight lorry parking ban would be amended to allow lorries to park overnight on certain roads in the Gunnels Wood Road employment area, such as Argyle Way.

Following formal consultation, the entire parking scheme could be completed by April 2010.

A spokesman for SBC said: "The proposals will help local businesses by making it easier for shoppers to find a parking space.

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