Bath shopkeepers and restaurateurs are up in arms over Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) council’s dramatic rise in on-street parking charges—up by 41% in some places!
Streets in central Bath are now part of a premium zone where the parking charges have rocketed. In Laura Place, next to the historic Pulteney Bridge with its plethora of small independent shops, the charge for an hour of parking has risen steeply from £2.40 to £3.40- a 42 per cent increase.
‘Now there is greater park and ride capacity, there is less need for motorists to drive their car into the city centre for an on-street space,’ says a Bath council spokesperson. ‘We also want to encourage people to use on-street car parking for shorter terms. This helps businesses in the immediate vicinity due to a greater turnover of cars that results in a better chance for their customers to find a parking space.’
Local traders disagree. Whereas Laura Place used to be a busy parking area, it is now virtually empty of cars. The nearby shopkeepers are incensed by what they see as a move that is putting off shoppers from coming to their part of Bath—not encouraging them. In response, the Independent Shops of Bath have started a petition calling for an end to the council’s increase of parking charges.
‘The price increases are large and unjustified especially at this time of year when post-Christmas people don’t have a great deal of disposable income,’ says Rajen Doshi, owner of A H Hale Chemist on Argyle Street. ‘It’s going to prevent people from coming to shop in Bath.’
‘For our customers they want to quickly park up and grab something—this will put them off,’ says Charlie Tanner of nearby John Moore Sports. He fears this increase will have a detrimental effect on local business.
Hitting the pavements to help support the petition in other parts of Bath, I rapidly got the best part of a hundred signatures from local shopkeepers who told a similar story.
‘Our customers ask us to post their purchases to them now, rather than drive into Bath to pick them up, because the parking is so expensive,’ said the manager of a doorknob shop in Broad Street. ‘That’s a pity because those customers used to pop into other shops when they came in and they aren’t doing that now.’
B&NES is seriously misunderstanding the dynamics of shopping in their city and as result of their fixation with expensive park-and-ride schemes are putting off many other customers who would frequent Bath’s independent shops.