Grand Pier co-owner believes parking charges change has hurt business

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 March 2018

Michelle Michael

Michelle Michael

Archant

The Grand Pier’s co-owner says people are ‘voting with their feet’ after the seafront attraction suffered a loss of 65,000 visitors last year.

Michelle Michael says the pier saw a 63 per cent drop in visitor numbers from 6-7pm during peak periods throughout 2017, compared to the previous year.

She has blamed the loss on increased on-street parking charges which came into force in April last year.

This saw the price of a one-hour stay rise from £1 to £1.30 and from £2.40 to £2.50 for two hours.

The charges have risen again this year to £1.50 for one hour and £3 for two hours.

MORE: Parking charges rise

Surveys carried out by the pier suggest 96 per cent of people said they had to leave early due to their parking ticket expiring and it being too far a walk to return.

Ms Michael said: “I am concerned the council has put up prices for car parking in the town centre and on the seafront, and we know as an attraction it has a direct effect on the dwell time of the visitor to the resort.

“We have frequent discussions with visitors who state they have to leave as their 6pm ticket is expiring.

“We also have complaints that the costs of parking far exceed those of more affluent towns and cities.

“There is data out there which confirms that reducing the costs of car parking has a positive effect on the economy and actually the parking operator makes more money in the long run because more visitors come.

“At the moment I believe a lot of locals are voting with their feet hence the reduction in visitors to the resort.

“We as an attraction are a main footfall driver but even we can see the decline in numbers since last year and since the prices have gone up again.

“The council is saying it will monitor it this year but my view is that the problem is already two years old.

“Most people coming to the resort feel the parking charges are too high for the location in addition to the charges for using toilets.”

Sunday parking charges are also planned to be introduced which has caused concern among some town centre traders.

Councillor Mark Canniford, who runs the Spar store in High Street, told the Mercury in January he fears they would be the ‘last nail in the coffin’ for businesses.

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