Shops re­port­ing losses of al­most 40% due to park­ing costs.

Coun­cil­lor claims sur­vey shows traders across An­gus are suf­fer­ing losses due to new fees

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - GRA­HAM BROWN [email protected]­

Hard-hit An­gus town cen­tre traders have re­ported losses of al­most 40% in a coun­cil­lor’s sur­vey into the im­pact of park­ing charges across the dis­trict.

The se­cond full-month fig­ures for the off-street scheme re­vealed a drop in ticket tak­ings of more than 10% dur­ing what busi­nesses had hoped would be a bumper fes­tive pe­riod.

Carnoustie in­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor David Cheape has warned of the “dire con­se­quences” for burghs if ac­tion is not taken to re­verse the down­ward spi­ral for shops.

He launched his own sur­vey early last month in the wake of protests over the in­tro­duc­tion of the charges on No­vem­ber 1 and is now call­ing for a two-hour free pe­riod to be brought in at the 33 off-street car parks where me­ters were in­stalled.

Mr Cheape said: “I have re­ceived a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of re­sponses, not only from Carnoustie re­tail­ers but from other An­gus burghs too.

“With­out ex­cep­tion, all have suf­fered from a de­cline in sales since park­ing charges were in­tro­duced.

“Wor­ry­ingly, the most ‘mod­est’ de­crease recorded was still 13% year-on-year. This statis­tic alone would cause most re­tail­ers to shud­der.

“How­ever, one busi­ness in Ar­broath con­tacted me to ad­vise that through­out Jan­uary to Oc­to­ber 2018 they saw month-on-month growth in turnover.

“Once park­ing charges were in­tro­duced on No­vem­ber 1, their sales plum­meted 38%.”

Mr Cheape added: “Vir­tu­ally all re­tail­ers I have spo­ken to say that op­po­si­tion to the park­ing charges from cus­tomers is al­most equally split be­tween those that are op­posed to the charges gen­er­ally and those op­posed to the ‘cash­less’ means of pay­ment.

“High street re­tail­ers in smaller towns are al­ready strug­gling to com­pete with those in the larger ci­ties, out of town re­tail parks and the ever-in­creas­ing drift to on­line pur­chases.

“We need to sup­port them, not pe­nalise their trade by scar­ing away their cus­tomers.

“In these lean eco­nomic times for lo­cal gov­ern­ment, I be­lieve there may be a case for long-stay car park­ing charges in high street car parks, how­ever I feel it is es­sen­tial that we amend the cur­rent struc­ture of charg­ing to al­low the first two hours to be free, al­low­ing res­i­dents and vis­i­tors a more re­laxed op­por­tu­nity to shop and dine, and in do­ing so con­tinue to sup­port our lo­cal traders.

“To fail to do so will have dire con­se­quences for the high street.”

Op­po­si­tion SNP coun­cil­lors are lin­ing up an emer­gency mo­tion on the is­sue, but de­tails of when that may be con­sid­ered by a spe­cial meet­ing of the coun­cil are yet to be for­malised.

SNP group leader, For­far coun­cil­lor Lynne Devine said: “Peo­ple are just park­ing else­where and the money is just not com­ing in.”

Pic­ture: Steve Mac­dougall.

Coun­cil­lor David Cheape in a near-empty car park off Carnoustie High Street on a Satur­day af­ter­noon.

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