Shopkeeper is ‘beyond outrage’ over proposed parking fees

Fears shoppers will be priced out of town.

After reading your headline report, I was left feeling far beyond ‘outrage’ at the Devon County Council plan to charge for High Street parking in Honiton.

We have been trading in the High Street for 15 years, nearly 10 in our present premises, and only in recent months has it become more and more noticeable that our customers are having to get back to the car because of the parking, now several times a day.

Every time this happens, it is another customer leaving before spending any money and, I am sure, this must be happening all over the town. How is reducing free parking to half an hour going to help all of us keep our businesses and services going ?

We may be quite a busy little shop, but we are looking at including online shopping to our services, and , who knows, if online business is good and the cost of running a High Street shop in a town where business rates, rents and parking are scandalously high, and more customers stay away, we could be yet another empty shop in the street.

Pieter Burger is quite correct when he warns of towns like Honiton going the same way as villages.

We are probably well on the road to a High Street devoid of shops, leaving an assortment of coffee houses and charity shops and tumbleweed.

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The only shop to be re-let recently is yet another coffee shop next to the church. How many shops are now empty, the Halifax premises will soon be another, then how many more will there be?

This is, of course, not just a concern for the businesses in the High Street - shoppers and visitors will be the ones who are actually paying the parking charge, and they need to fight this proposed new parking tax along with the retailers.

Another real concern I have over this parking charge issue and Devon County Council is that this decision was made by our elected councillors who are supposed to represent our views. How can we have a view when there was no consultation and not even any notification to the town council as to what would be happening in their own town?

If a town like Honiton is to become busy and vibrant, all parking charges should be minimised, and free parking should be at least two hours. We should be attracting shoppers and visitors here, not ‘charging’ them out of town, and we need to act now before there is nothing left here to park for.

Debra Revell

The Curtain Trader