Cirencester Chamber of Commerce leads the fight against proposed car parking increases.
Cotswold District Council recently announced on 15th July their decision to increase car parking charges across the District by 30% despite loud protests from opposition local Councillors, residents, and the Cirencester Business Community led by the Chamber of Commerce.
The Council justified their decision by saying they had to find ways of making up a ‘huge budget shortfall’ and that their finances were so bad they desperately needed the anticipated £435,000 that could be generated. The Chamber found this very difficult to understand as the Council has accumulated reserves of £33m and has recently received £941,887 emergency funding from central government.
Rather than just protest and to prove how strongly businesses felt, the Chamber coordinated a campaign to get feedback direct from local businesses, which was presented to the Council in the form of three petitions comprising two surveys run by the Cirencester Town Centre Business Forum and the Chamber of Commerce – via the Chamber’s Survey Monkey report.
We compiled the views of over 300 businesses and together over 80% of the businesses have said that car park charges will be seriously detrimental to their business. Despite this clear result the CDC voted to increase the charges from 1st September.
Annemarie Thurgood, President of the Chamber firmly stated, “This is not the time to do anything that may hinder the recovery of the town’s businesses. Some people’s businesses and personal finances are on a knife edge and every single sale, every single pound spent, counts.
From viewing the council meeting it was clear that many councillors were still voting based on surveys and decisions made back in February. In February, our businesses had not been closed for 3 plus months, people hadn’t had their income reduced by 20%, or worse, lost their jobs.”
Annemarie continued, “The campaign to retain the existing car park prices will continue and has been joined by Tetbury Chamber of Commerce who are running an online survey, as are the Wilts & Glos Standard.
We propose to petition the Town Council and get their support to call for the increased charges to be reversed. This petition will be presented to the Town Council on 8th September.
Hopefully people power will change the Council’s decision.”