ALMOST 70% of businesses believe city centre car parking is too expensive.

The finding was in response to a survey of retailers and other companies in Chester city centre commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council to provide an evidence base upon which action can be taken to improve Chester city as a trading environment.

Chester Renaissance is considering whether there is an appetite for a Business Improvement District to make the city more attractive against a backdrop of increased competition by funding extra policing, better street cleaning and a marketing campaign.

But retailers within the BID area, who would vote on the proposal, would pay an extra levy for the improvements on top of their rates.

A previous Chester BID proposal was narrowly defeated in December 2006.

More than 400 businesses took part in the latest consultation, representing a 54.4% response rate, with 60% stating they would be willing to support improvement projects that benefit the trading environment – however there was no mention of any extra charge.

The survey makes uncomfortable readings in places.

On car parking, no less than 68% of respondents agreed car parking was ‘very expensive’ with only 2% considering it represented value for money.

And 36% of respondents believe crime had a ‘significant’ or ‘moderate’ impact on the ability of the business to perform. Only 2% of respondents rate the marketing of Chester city centre as excellent.

But the Christmas campaign was reported by 54% to deliver an additional financial benefit to their business.