A small business lobby group says plans to increase parking charges in Sheffield by 40 per cent will drive custom away.
The Federation of Small Businesses, or FSB, says Sheffield Council is putting the future of firms under threat by increasing the cost of parking in on-street bays outside the city centre from 50p to 70p.
A decision on the charges will be made tomorrow, and a report by the council says the public do not need to be consulted.
FSB South Yorkshire chairman Andrew Flower said: “The council has once again showed its disregard for the small independent shop-owners who were once the backbone of Sheffield’s retail economy.
“Having been driven out of the town centre by a combination of high rents and the council’s transport policies, it seems the council is now intent on finishing them off altogether.
“There is a plethora of shop premises around the city lying empty and derelict. This air of abandonment spreads like a contagion and, once it starts, whole areas can become run down and dilapidated very quickly when customers can no longer gain reasonable access.
“In taking this short-sighted ‘easy option’ method of raising revenue, the council is merely initiating tomorrow’s problem of derelict graffiti-strewn urban shopping centres.”
Business owners in Hillsborough reacted with dismay at the news, saying the increase would drive customers away.
Mr Flower agreed. He said: “While motorists are viewed as the council’s ‘cash-cow’, council officials need to pause and consider the knock-on effects of their parking policies on retailers in areas like Broomhill and Hillsborough, whose commercial viability is hanging by a thread.”
On Monday the council’s cabinet member for transport Mazher Iqbal distanced himself from the proposals, despite being named as a consulted member in the report. He said: “We don’t want to bleed more money out of people. It’s nonsense.”
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