SHOPPERS could be driven away by plans to introduce pay and display parking on town centre streets.
Fears that South Holland’s main centres, including Spalding, Holbeach and Long Sutton, could become ghost towns have been raised by business leaders and traders after recommendations that on-street parking rules are changed to raise cash.
Lincolnshire County Council could introduce the changes next summer when it hopes to take responsibility for Civil Parking Enforcement and would use the money raised to pay for enforcing restrictions, which otherwise would leave it £1million out of pocket over five years.
But Spalding businessman Pete Williams, landlord of the Punchbowl in New Road, said “hitting the average man where it hurts” was not the way forward and would make people think twice before coming into town.
The recommendation, which is to go before the Highways Transport and Technology Scrutiny Committee on Monday, would be for ‘pay and display’ to be introduced in town centre areas where limited time parking already exists, such as New Road, the Sheep Market and Double Street in Spalding.
At present, time limits vary from one to three hours.
New charges would be consistent with local off-street parking and after consultation with South Holland District Council.
The document before councillors says the scheme would prevent spaces being blocked by cars parking for longer than allowed and would provide convenient parking for shoppers, effectively benefiting them and traders.
But David Pateman, chairman of Long Sutton Business and Traders’ Association, claims it would be seriously detrimental.
He said: “I think it would have a disastrous effect.
“There is a lot of on-street parking in Long Sutton and at the moment there is no problem because most people come in, shop and go. If they have to pay they wouldn’t do that and if this were to go ahead shopkeepers are likely to fight it.”
And Mr Williams added; “Times are hard for everyone and particularly for the average shopper. I know the council needs to raise money but why should the man at the bottom be penalised?
“The system at the moment is not that broken. There will always be a small minority who abuse the restrictions, but I would rather it stayed as it was and keep Spalding a friendly town than see everyone pay for a scheme which would rely on catching people out to cover the costs of running it.”
And Holbeach Fish Bar owner David Cinavas said: “I think this is absolutely disgraceful.
“There is a lot of deep feeling about parking in Holbeach and this would deter even more people from coming into the town.
“We need to find another way which would not arouse anxiety and animosity.”
In support of the scheme, president of Spalding and district area Chamber of Commerce Jason Rooke said: “I don’t think it would be a bad thing because at the moment people leave their cars in these spaces while they go to work.
“As long as the charges are not prohibitive I think it would be a good balance and shoppers and traders would support it.”