The row over new parking conditions in Eddisbury Square customer car park in Frodsham has stepped up a notch, with a petition to ‘get rid of’ the parking charges and calls to boycott the shops in the square altogether.
Adam Dawson, 23, from Helsby, set up the online petition – which at the time of going to press had 378 signatures and 107 comments – on Saturday (February 1).
One anonymous comment read: “This is heavy-handed bullying of what should be, valued, customers. Many of us have refused to shop in the square since the new regime was imposed. This boycott will continue and gather pace until the charges are withdrawn.”
Another read: “This is going to have a negative effect on local businesses, there’s lots of other places to go with big department stores that don’t charge for parking.”
A Helsby resident commented: “I refuse to shop whilst these charges are in effect and also the fact you cannot leave the square whilst parked is a joke especially if you are just crossing the street to the shops across the way. The parking fines will destroy the shops on the square and a small town like Frodsham is no place for such charges.”
Mr Dawson said he created the petition to support Frodsham.
“I think it is affecting a lot of trade in Frodsham and it’s unfair to residents who can’t afford to pay the charges.
“I love it round here. It’s a great place to live and I don’t want to see it affected by this.”
Helsby mother-of-three Kathryn Smith told The Chronicle : “I understand the need to place restrictions on the car park to ensure there are spaces available for legitimate shoppers.
“The two-hour time allowed is fine but the inability to visit other shops outside the square is ridiculous and unfair.
“I haven’t been to Frodsham since the changes were made after previously going at least a couple of times a week for a look around the shops, a trip to the bank and a coffee.
“I would rather pay to park in an alternative town or city knowing I am able to shop wherever I choose.”
The new conditions in the privately-owned car park, which are in force 24-hours-a-day, stipulate that the parking of vehicles must comply with a maximum two-hour stay, no return within two hours, and that drivers should not park there and leave or walk off site.
Failure to comply with them results in a parking charge of £100, which is discounted to £60 if payment is received within 14 days
Motorists complained in the Chronicle last week that the signs warning of the new conditions were ‘impossible to see from the entrance’ and ‘not sufficiently in your face’ which meant people were incurring charges without realising.
Two new signs have this week been installed at the entrance, warning drivers that parking conditions apply and directing them to see the full sign for details.
CWaC and Frodsham Town Councillors Andrew Dawson and Lynn Riley have written to the agents of the square suggesting the ‘immediate suspension’ of the enforcement arrangements, the reimbursement and cancellation of all parking charges levied and ‘you joining with us, the tenants and the property owners in discussions as to how your legitimate interests can be managed with the community’.
They added: “Your actions in bringing in car parking restrictions and enforcement without adequate notice or any communication or consultation with the wider community has caused unnecessary and avoidable annoyance and disquiet.”
Weaver Vale MP Graham Evans has voiced concern about the potential effect on local trade.
He said: “I have been contacted by a number of constituents about parking in Eddisbury Square. I am concerned that these new parking charges could have a negative impact on Frodsham’s economy.
“I can confirm that I am working with local councillors, and on behalf of residents, to take this up with the owner of Eddisbury Square. If any constituents would like me to take this issue up on their behalf, they should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01606 350 323.”
Lee Randle, from Mason Partners, the letting agents for the Eddisbury Square retail development, said: “We have taken on board criticisms that people have levelled that the signage was not visible enough and as a result of that we have arranged additional signs at the entrance.
“It is clearly evident there is a problem with congestion preventing customers of the square parking and shopping and, as a result, it has been necessary to regulate that.”
“The car park is privately owned and paid for via a service charge levied to the businesses occupying the square.
“Neither the landlord nor any of the businesses in the square are receiving any income as a result of the charges.”
Businesses have say on dispute
With the new conditions in force, residents and local politicians fear the impact it will have on the local economy. But what do local businesses think about the restrictions?
Jack Ioannou, owner of EJ’s Fry Days takeaway, which is opposite Eddisbury Square on Church Street, said: “I have spoken to some of my customers who have said that they cannot come back because they cannot afford to pay the charges.
“Unfortunately what the operators are doing is scaring the customers away from the village.
“The way the car park operators are trying to operate the car park is letting down all the people that have supported the local businesses through the hard times that we have had over the last five years.”
Nicholas Broome, of the family-run pub Helter Skelter, also on Church Street, said the fact the conditions are in force 24 hours a day is affecting people.
He said: “We have had a few customers who have said they won’t be returning because of it. There is a free car park at night at the railway station but it is very poorly lit so there’s a safety concern.
“We should not be boycotting shops, we still need to support the local economy.
“I think our dining trade is the one that could be affected because that is more of a case of getting in a car and one person choosing not to drink whereas I expect the drinking trade to be largely unaffected, although some people may not stay as long.”
Not all local businesses are critical of the new restrictions. Sue Shaw, manager of The Original Factory Shop, on Eddisbury Square, said: “It hasn’t had any effect on our business. I can see where the customers are coming from but the idea behind it is there used to be a lot of cars parked there but you never saw the people because they were leaving their cars and getting on the train to Chester or Manchester. That was taking a car park space from one of our customers.”