Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris has written to the Leader and Chief Executive of Castle Point Borough Council asking them to look at making Oak Road Car Park on Canvey, and Rectory Road Car Park in Hadleigh, free during weekdays to help boost town centre trade.
Speaking on the charges at the Oak Road car park in Canvey town centre, Rebecca said:
“Although the charge at Oak Road is not particularly expensive, local traders believe the inconvenience for drivers is causing more customers to choose the out-of-town retail parks with free parking. I recently visited the Oak Road Car Park during the day on a Saturday, when parking remains free and it was packed, and during the week when there was barely a car in it. I can see why traders are very concerned. We should be supporting our local independent businesses and town centres more.”
Darren Brown of the independent Canvey Petshop, Browns, on Furtherwick Road, whose business is very close to the Oak Road car park, said: “The Council really needs to understand how important it is to help local, small and especially independent businesses like ours in the town centre to get our customers back since COVID. We have already lost the independent butchers in the town centre. Us local traders need more support.”
Rectory Road Car Park in Hadleigh Town Centre has had charges during the weekday for many years, but a recent decision by the nearby Morrisons supermarket to limit times local shoppers can park in their own car park before receiving a fine has high street traders worried.
Local Conservative Councillor Jacqui Thornton has been speaking to a number of local traders and is backing calls for the council to look at Rectory Road Car Park being made free on weekdays. She said ““I recently met with concerned traders who have seen a marked decline in their footfall since Morrisons put limits on the time shoppers can park before being fined. People have no time to shop in the high street or grab some food or a coffee after they have done their weekly shop. The independent council administration have said they will not fight Morrisons further on their decision so something else needs to be done to support our high street.”.
Emma Horton, who owns the Gifts for all Home Décor on London Road in Hadleigh is concerned about the future of the town centre unless something is done. “As a small independent trader, we feel like the council is ignoring us in Hadleigh and the town is becoming a ghost town, with no banks in Hadleigh and now Morrison’s parking being a big issue we have noticed a big drop in trade. Considering these issues we worry whether we will be able to continue with our business in Hadleigh town centre in the future. This would be such a loss for us and the community of Hadleigh. We believe that accessible parking during the week could definitely make a difference to both us and our customers.”
Rebecca wrote to the leadership of Castle Point Borough Council requesting last week requesting they review the changes. She said “We are now in a post-COVID world where councils need to rethink how they support local high streets. I understand that the Council benefits from income from the car parks. However, I fear that unless something is done the loss of business rates from small local traders and the general degradation of our town centre areas as a result will make sticking with these charges a false economy.”