There has been a hostile reaction from the town’s traders to Lewes District Council’s plans to increase car park charges in the town by 10 per cent in the next financial year.
David Quinn, of Barbican Carpets, said: “I’m very unhappy about this. Our rates are among the highest in the country and this will result in a further loss of revenue to town traders.”
The former President of Lewes Chamber of Commerce added: “Footfall is falling year by year and trade needs to be encouraged – not sent elsewhere where there are no charges.”
Clothier Paul Clark, who has two shops in the town, is “bitterly disappointed” about the car parking hike. “Where is the footfall in the High Street?” he asked. “It just isn’t here. People do not stop to browse anymore.”
The cause of traders has been taken up by Lewes Town Councillor Stephen Catlin (Independent, Lewes Priory) who said that a recent increase in charges in the London Road area of Brighton has resulted in a 25 per cent decrease in business there.
He fired a broadside at both major political parties on Lewes District Council.
Cllr Catlin said: “It is disingenuous of the Lib-Dems to criticise the Tories, when they brought the scheme, imperfect since its inception, into being.
“And it is ridiculous for the Tories to claim the money will be spent on the car parks, because the council has readily admitted that net income from car parking is not ring-fenced but is used to support the council’s corporate priorities.”
Figures supplied to Cllr Catlin under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the district council’s gross income from the parking scheme during 2011/12 amounted to £949,180.
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