SOARING parking charges will ‘kill off’ city centre shopping, retailers warned today - and urged Sheffield Council to rethink its plans.
A 17 per cent price hike from £1.70 to £2 per hour, plus the introduction for the first time of evening and Sunday city centre parking charges, is to come in later this spring.
The rise in charges comes as a major report into Sheffield’s economy shows it is under-performing for a city its size.
Sheffield’s output could be worth £11.2 billion a year, according to Economic Growth Strategy analysis. Instead, the city is generating £9.6bn a year - a ‘prosperity shortfall’ of £1.6bn.
Shopkeepers today called on the council to cancel the parking rise.
Clarke Vaughan, manager of Division Street fashion store A New Shop, said: “The council is killing us, and people are going to stop shopping in the city centre. It needs to reconsider.
“Meadowhall has free parking - everyone is just going to go there. It’s inside, it’s warm and it’s free.”
Jeanette Dryden, a waitress at Andrew’s Cafe, on Chapel Walk, agreed.
“It’ll be particularly bad on Sundays because a lot of people come into town then, when parking is free,” she said.
Alex Mir, manager of Sa-Kis clothing store on Division Street, said shopkeepers are planning a petition.
He said: “It’s disgraceful. The charge will have a massive effect on Sundays, and the evening charges will hit people coming to bars and restaurants.”
Jill Winton, owner of Plantology florist on Division Street, said: “There’s no life left in the city centre as it is, it’s very bleak. We rely on people being able to come in by car.”
Sheffield Council says it needs to raise more money from parking to offset cuts elsewhere, and stressed prices are being cut in off-street council car parks. The council added it is working on a cashback or discount scheme for people who pay to park, then spend in local shops.
Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for finance, Coun Bryan Lodge - who owns a sandwich bar on Division Street - said: “Traders want short-term turnover of spaces on-street, so charges are high to discourage people staying for a long time”.
“We are reducing the cost of parking in off-street car parks, and my colleague Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, is working on a scheme to provide cashback or discount for people who park, then use local traders”.
A similar pilot scheme is already planned for Broomhill.
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES?
On-street parking charges in Sheffield city centre are rising from £1.70 to £2 per hour.
The current one-hour waiting limit is being removed, but fees for longer city centre stays will be £4 for two hours, £8 for four hours, and £16 for eight hours.
Spaces on the edge of the city centre will be £1 an hour, up to a maximum of eight hours.
Council car parks in the city centre will have charges cut, from £1.55 to £1 for one hour, £3.10 to £2 for two hours, and £6.20 to £4 for up to four hours.
A £5 ticket will be brought in for up to eight hours, while Sunday parking will be £1 on-street and in car parks.