PRESS RELEASE – 14 JULY 2020
THREE SEPARATE BUSINESS SURVEYS SHOW LOCAL BUSINESS AGAINST 30% RISE IN PARKING CHARGES
Three separate local business organisations sent Cotswold District Council the results of independent studies conducted amongst the business owners of Cirencester in reaction to the 30% rise in car parking charges.
From 1 September, parking charges across Council-owned car parks will increase by 30%, raising an extra £435,000 of funds for the district council, just short of the £500,000 the LibDem administration has already spent on preparing the Waterloo car park project which has now been put on hold.
The first survey was in the form of a petition for retail businesses organised by the Cirencester Town Centre Forum. The petition stated, “All businesses disagreed with the increased parking charges and said it would be harmful to their business”. Over 150 business owners or senior business leaders signed the petition.
A separate petition was also signed by over 100 stallholders from the Corn Hall marketplace.
Mike Davis Managing Director of CJ Hole and spokesperson for the Cirencester Chamber and the Business Forum said,
“We were shocked to discover that over 50% of the respondents to the Forum’s survey were completely unaware of the proposed 30% increases. Moreover, in talking to the shops and their landlords (all of whom have lost four months' turnover), there was no evidence of rents or other costs being increased - quite the opposite! Increasing charges to businesses trying to emerge from lockdown makes no economic sense”.
In a separate, independent study, The Cirencester Chamber of Commerce conducted an online survey of their membership in which 48 members were asked two questions.
When asked “How important is car parking to Cirencester businesses as we emerge from Coronavirus lockdown?” 79.17% of respondents said ‘extremely important’ and 14.58% said it was ‘very important.’
When also asked, “In the current post-Coronavirus climate, do you think the council’s plans to increase car parking charges will have an impact on business?” 75% said it would have a ‘significant impact,’ 18.75% said it would have a ‘small impact’ and only 6.25% said it would have ‘no impact.’
The three independent surveys had no impact on the Lib Dem administration when they debated an opposition Conservative motion at July's full council meeting asking to abandon the 30% price increase.
Cllr Richard Morgan, Leader of the Opposition Conservative group said,
“I think the results of these three independent studies reflect and underline the strength of feeling from business owners and their staff in market towns across the entire Cotswolds”.
“This regressive 30% price increase hurts residents, it hurts small business owners, but it also hurts the hardworking staff in our high streets. For example, a low paid full-time shopworker will now be forced to spend almost £400 a year extra on parking charges just so they can keep their job.”
“As a council, we should be doing everything we can to support our local business community and help protect the jobs they create for our residents. This policy feels like the LibDems are deliberately going out of their way to make life even harder. We only needed 2 or 3 backbench Lib Dem members to see sense and support our motion and we could have put a stop to the 30% increase. Not one of them did.”