A HEAVY increase in the cost of on-street parking in Sheffield city centre has been announced – leading to claims the cost could harm trade.
The rise, set to be imposed by Sheffield Council later this spring, is equivalent to 17 per cent, with the cost of parking for one hour going up from £1.70 to £2.
And, although the current one-hour waiting limit is being removed, fees for longer stays in the city centre will be £4 for two hours, £8 for four hours and £16 for eight hours.
The increases are coming into force as part of efforts to off-set £50 million of Government cuts in 2013-14 - and are alongside other fee hikes such as to the price of residents’ parking permits.
Council officers say, despite the rise, they aims to boost trade in the city centre overall by bringing down the cost of parking in its off-street car parks.
But shopkeepers such as Wayne Biney, of Pinstone Street fashion store Naked Ape, are not convinced.
He has described the rise as ‘excessive’ and is worried it will deter more shoppers who do not want to pay the higher amount to park on streets.
A date has not yet been set for when the charge changes come into effect, which will also bring an end to free parking on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays.
The Labour-run council says it has no choice - but Coun Ian Auckland, Liberal Democrat business spokesman on the council, said: “This is simply the wrong decision at a time when high streets are feeling the pinch.”
FOR: Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council:
“We had a good look at our charging structure to offer a more flexible, consistent and straightforward deal, with some reductions.
We are in a position where ongoing reductions to our budget from central government mean we have to try to increase parking income.
The way we have gone about it is designed to encourage visits to the city centre.
We need to compete with the private sector providers out there, so we aim to win back market share and increase occupancy of our parking spaces, some of which are significantly underused at present.
If we can increase use of our parking capacity by offering a better spread of charges, the driver gets more choice, and some better prices.
We are keen to support local businesses and are consulting on a possible pilot scheme offering discounts with traders for parking in Broomhill, which, if it was implemented and proved successful, could be rolled out to other areas.”
AGAINST: Gill Winton, Plantology Florists:
“I think Sheffield Council is killing the city centre. There’s nothing left and it’s very bleak.
Perhaps the problem is the council has lost revenue from parking, because people are not coming into the city centre, so that’s why they feel they need to increase fees.
The only day the streets are busy for parking is a Sunday – and that’s because it’s free.
We rely on people being able to come by car.
I appreciate the council is strapped for cash and they need to get revenue from somewhere, but I don’t think they are supporting the city centre in a way that they should be doing.
At the same time, business rates are going up by 20 per cent.
I think the council should allow people to park free for the first few minutes, which will help businesses like mine.
They should definitely reconsider their plans to increase fees – keep them down to encourage trade.”