TOWN halls across the nation risk killing off the high street after hiking parking charges in a desperate bid to bring in extra cash when the lockdown ends.
The British Retail Consortium said the price hikes will be “counter-productive” and have called on the government to underwrite the charges in the run up to Christmas when shops reopen next month.
This week Croydon Council – who hiked parking charged by 30 per cent – declared themselves bankrupt. Towns like Basingstoke in Hampshire have removed free parking for the disabled while nearby Chichester has also hiked charges.
In Derbyshire many councils have double parking charges, while in Sussex some councils have increased payments between 20p and £1.90 an hour. Other councils up and down the country have also upped the charges.
Dominic Curran, Property Policy Advisor at the British Retail Consortium, said: “With footfall remaining well below pre-pandemic levels, retailers are facing a harsh reality as we enter the crucial Christmas trading period.
“Increases in parking charges will do little to encourage the public back to our town centres when non-essential retailers are able to reopen. Whilst we understand the need to raise funds at such a challenging time, doing so through parking charges is counter-productive.
“With more shops at risk of closure, empty spaces on our high streets will demand regeneration, costing councils more money. The Government should give shoppers and town centres an early Christmas present and underwrite parking charges between the end of lockdown and Christmas.”
Councillor David Renard, Transport Spokesperson for the Local Government Association said: “Councils have to try and strike a balance when setting parking charges to ensure there are spaces available for everyone at all times of the day and we can keep traffic moving.
“Income raised through on-street parking charges is spent on running parking services.
“Any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling the £10 billion roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces.”
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