Businesses urged to unite to fight car parking charges

NAILSEA businesses are joining forces to protest against the proposal to increase parking charges in their town, which they believe will have a huge effect on trade in the area.

North Somerset Council is considering introducing charges at car parks in Nailsea, Clevedon and Portishead in a bid to generate extra income.

But businesses fear the new fees will result in scores of shops closing due to the reduction in visitors to the town.

In a letter to North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton, Janet Hendey, chairman of Nailsea Chamber of Trade and partner at Wards solicitors, said: “Nailsea does not have the tourism attraction which, certainly Clevedon, benefits from and, in a small way, Portishead.

“Nailsea is a functional town where local residents come to shop, do their banking etc, and meet friends in caf�s and pubs. The existence of free parking is very important to Nailsea.

“The imposition of parking charges will drive visitors away from the town. They will simply drive to out-of-town supermarkets, where car parking is free, do their banking online and meet friends in outlying areas with free car parks.

“Any reduction in the amount of visitors to Nailsea will have an adverse effect on the businesses, both retail and offices, which operate in the town centre.

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“Many of the businesses are small and are already struggling to cope with the impact of the recession. Any further downturn will have a negative effect and is likely to result in even more businesses closing.”

In an email to members of the chamber of trade, Mrs Hendey urged other businesses to write to North Somerset Council to appeal for the proposal to be dropped.

Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council’s executive member for strategic planning, highways and transport, said: “We are looking at various options including charging at car parks in Clevedon, Portishead and Nailsea.

“There have been a range of suggestions on what the charges might be, but it certainly wouldn’t be any more than in Weston.

“We are looking at it because the council has to make major budget savings in line with Government requirements and this is one option to produce revenue and to cover the cost of maintaining those car parks, a cost which, at the moment, comes out of the general transport fund.”

North Somerset Council’s Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel was due to discuss the proposal yesterday (Tues) as the Times went to press.