80 per cent say car park charges will be seriously detrimental to their business, says chamber of commerce
Cotswold District Council recently announced on July 15 its decision to increase car parking charges across the district by 30 per cent, writes David Fowles of Cirencester Chamber of Trade.
This was despite loud protests from opposition local councillors, residents, and the Cirencester business community led by the chamber of commerce.
The council justified its decision by saying it had to find ways of making up a ‘huge budget shortfall’ and that its finances were so bad it desperately needed the anticipated £435,000 that could be generated.
The chamber found this very difficult to understand as the council has accumulated reserves of £33 million and has recently received £941,887 emergency funding from central government.
Rather than just protest and to prove how strongly businesses felt, the chamber coordinated a campaign to get feedback direct from local businesses, which was presented to the council in the form of three petitions comprising two surveys run by the Cirencester Town Centre Business Forum and the chamber of commerce - via the chamber’s Survey Monkey report.
We compiled the views of over 300 businesses and together over 80 per cent of the businesses have said that car park charges will be seriously detrimental to their business.
Despite this clear result the CDC voted to increase the charges from September 1.
Annemarie Thurgood, president of the chamber firmly stated: “This is not the time to do anything that may hinder the recovery of the town’s businesses.
"Some people’s businesses and personal finances are on a knife edge and every single sale, every single pound spent, counts.
"From viewing the council meeting it was clear that many councillors were still voting based on surveys and decisions made back in February.
"In February, our businesses had not been closed for three plus months, people hadn’t had their income reduced by 20 per cent, or worse, lost their jobs.”
Annemarie said: “The campaign to retain the existing car park prices will continue and has been joined by Tetbury Chamber of Commerce which is running an online survey, as is the Wilts & Glos Standard newspaper.
"We propose to petition the town council and get their support to call for the increased charges to be reversed. This petition will be presented to the town council on September 8. Hopefully people power will change the council’s decision.”
David Fowles, is vice vhair Cirencester Chamber of Commerce.