Just as new red route proposals are threatening to damage trade throughout the West Midlands, Sandwell Council will also be introducing new car parking charges to the town of Wednesbury where business owners are already struggling due to the recession.
Sandwell MBC may have hit upon a new way to cream an extra £30k per year from the taxpayer – barely enough to pay the salary of one of its officers – but their actions don’t take into account the slump in trade that local retail outlets are already experiencing.
Aaron Sheldon of Bojangles Jewellers in the town’s Market Place commented to the Express & Star:
“It’s ridiculous. Just when we are struggling the most they come and add another hazard to the town that is only going to deter more customers when the traders are desperate for more custom.
It makes no sense. They want people to increase their spending. How is it going to increase people coming to spend money when they are going to have to outlay more money just to get here?
Why would they want to do that to a town that needs more customers?”
Why indeed? Surely £30k isn’t enough extra revenue for Sandwell Council to implement this new deterrent in Wednesbury that could further jeopardise the town’s small businesses? Who knows what the motivation is. It’s true that most of us stopped trying to second guess the actions of this local authority a long time ago...
The charges might not be severe, but that doesn’t take away from just how ill thought out and insensitive this latest idea is. Councils should be easing the pressure on businesses and taxpayers, not increasing it for their own interests, and they should remember that actions like these completely negate their expenditure on fancy focus groups, seminars and helplines designed to combat the effects of the credit crunch.