Independent traders feel the council has kicked them where it hurts by confirming on-street parking charges will be introduced at a difficult time.
The decision to introduce £1 an hour charges in Brook Street, City Road and Foregate Street has upset the hard-working small business people.
And traders in Brook Street don’t agree with the council’s stated reasons for introducing the charges.
The local authority claims ‘modest’ parking charges will free up spaces so cars don’t park on the double yellow lines opposite which causes a road safety hazard.
But shopkeepers suspect even more people will park on yellow lines if the alternative is to pay £1 an hour with their biggest fear many customers will simply shop elsewhere.
Amanda McAleer, who runs The Egerton pub and The Full English cafe, accepted road safety concerns had been raised but responded: “This is the council’s answer to our concerns. It’s going to make it worse. It’s ridiculous.
“They are just going to kick all the businesses that rely on the trade coming to the street to park. That’s it.”
She said her cafe customers would be faced with paying an extra £1 on top of the price of their bacon buttie.
Ali Demir, chef at Brook Street Cafe and Bistro, pointed to the petition on the counter which asks the council to abandon its plans because it will ‘deter customers and damage most businesses’.
Guy Massey, who owns the Happy Days second hand furniture shop, agrees parking on the double yellow lines causes an obstruction for wheelchair users and parents with buggies.
But he commented: “They want people to go in the parking bays but they will go on the double yellow lines because you get 10 minutes for loading and unloading.”
Mr Massey added: “My beef is I will have to pay to load and unload my van to take stock into my own business and make deliveries.”
Suleyman Temur from Turkish Style barbers, who charges £11 for a basic haircut, said an extra £1 parking charge was a steep rise for his customers.
He said: “Everybody is complaining about it. It will definitely affect business. People want to save money not pay more.”
Wojciech Pachucy, who sells handmade Polish dumplings from Pierogi, said the only way the council’s plan to reduce double parking was if their charge drove customers away.
“For businesses it will mean less people on Brook Street, “ said the owner, who lives in City Road so may end up paying twice when it comes to his own vehicle.
“Instead of paying £1 an hour people will go to places like Broughton outside Chester . It feels like the council is supporting the big chains instead of small businesses. We make money to live. We are not buying apartments for millions of pounds in London.”
Bob Gohill, who is involved with Chai Station and Chester Spice Market, admits: “I won’t pay a £1 – no chance. I don’t think anybody will pay a £1. They will park on the yellow lines.”
Simon Poulton, owner of Chester Repair Centre, says people will park on yellow lines irrespective of whether spaces are available.
“They are doing it because they don’t want to be more than three seconds away from where they need to be,” he said.
Italian restaurant The Yard in City Road is annoyed at plans to introduce a £1 an hour charge in its street, describing the plan as an ‘absolute shambles’.
“Another nail in the coffin for the independent restaurants,” said the business owners in a message to The Chronicle.
Charging will apply between 8am and 9pm. Between 8am and 6pm there will be a charge of £1 per hour with a maximum period of waiting of two hours in City Road and one hour in Foregate Street and Brook Street. Return will be prohibited within one hour. Between 6pm and 9pm there will be a £1 flat rate.
The permitted length of stay is being increased on City Road to two hours and on Foregate Street to one hour. Brook Street will remain the same because of the pressure on parking in that location.
The changes are part of the council’s 15-year parking strategy which also involves axing the popular Free after 3 parking discount in Chester and Ellesmere Port .
Councillor Karen Shore, cabinet member for environment, said: “Changes to parking charges and the introduction of length of stay restrictions will ensure everyone can park where they need to, when they need to, and altering the restrictions and introducing charging on specific roads will ensure parking is fair across the city.
“As the strategy is implemented parking in Chester will be easier and more accessible for everyone - we are supporting residents, businesses and the visitor economy.”
Objections and other representations relating to the draft traffic regulation order concerning the parking changes must be made in writing by March 29, 2018, and objections must specify the grounds on which they are made.