Aug 12, 2011 0
An open letter to Tony Page, Lead Councillor for Transport & Planning from Councillor Ricky Duveen:
I understand that you, as Lead Councillor, have agreed the increase in car park charges in the two car parks in Tilehurst run by NCP on behalf of the council.
I am not sure whether you realise the precarious nature of retail trade at the moment but Tilehurst shopkeepers are irate at the potential affects on their trade, not from increasing existing car park charges but from withdrawing the free first hour. When the charges were first introduced, the reason given was the necessity to prevent day commuters from filling up the then very heavily used car parks. We ran a campaign on behalf of the shopkeepers to allow a minimum free period for shoppers to use the shops along School Road without paying a parking charge. We were very grateful when the council agreed to waive charges for the first hour and this has enabled the car parks to be run for the shoppers they were intended for rather than for the benefit of commuters.
We cannot understand why you would now want to to depress trade in Tilehurst even further in the current poor trading conditions. Shopkeepers, and their customers, are angry at the introduction of this charge and fearful of the effects on shops in Tilehurst.
I do not have the figures from NCP about the expected income from charging for the first hour, but I do not believe that in the grand scheme of things this amounts to a large amount of income. If you do have the figures then I would very much like to see them.
I was shocked when I visited the local hardware store yesterday to be told by the shop assistant that new car park charges were being introduced without any form of consultation. A petition has already been drawn up and will be presented to the council at the first opportunity.
In short, can I ask you to reconsider your decision to do away with the free first hour in the interests of Tilehurst’s local shopping centre which we would all like to encourage rather than depress even further.