New car park charges?

PORTISHEAD traders are outraged at North Somerset Council s plans to introduce parking charges to free car parks in the town.

PORTISHEAD traders are outraged at North Somerset Council's plans to introduce parking charges to free car parks in the town.

The council's Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel has recommended increasing existing parking charges and introducing fees for on-street parking to save cash in the next financial year.

The plans could lead to charges being implemented in free car parks and town centre streets across the district and business leaders in Portishead believe it will be the final nail in the coffin for the town's trade.

Steve Fowler of Fowlers Florist in High Street said: "High Street traders rely a great deal on passing trade.

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"There has already been a reduction in on-street parking and to now propose to introduce charges to the car parks in the town is distressing for the retailers.

"I have no doubt that the introduction of parking charges will kill trade for Portishead retailers."

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The proposal has been suggested as part of the council's plans to plug the £17million funding gap it faces over the next couple of years.

The panel believes the move could generate £289,000 for council funds, but small businesses believe the new charges will kill off many town centre stores.

Portishead Chamber of Trade president, Greg Corrigan, said: "As a growing community Portishead is beginning to attract shoppers to the town and the introduction of charges to existing car parks is bound to have an adverse effect.

"The inability to park and the cost of parking charges is already driving people out of Bristol to shop elsewhere, we don't want the same thing happening in Portishead."

Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset's executive member for strategic planning, highways and economic development, said introducing charges could be good for businesses to prevent people from parking all day.

He said: "We are looking at all sorts of different options in order to reduce council tax and that includes looking at possible new sources of income as well as cutting some of the things that we do at the moment.

"Car parks in Portishead, Clevedon and North Somerset are vulnerable and each one has its own individual situation.

"One of the problems for traders is that people take up parking slots all day. We are looking at introducing a small charge that would encourage a turnover in car parks which would be good for traders.

"On the other hand, we have to make sure the charge is not too much to that it would dissuade people from using the local shops and facilities altogether.

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