Page 13 - MarketTimesAugust2016
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  Market Times • August 2016
NEWS
Saffron Walden traders battle over parking change
 MARKET traders at Saffron Walden in Essex are fighting a change in the number of hours shoppers can park, which they say is crippling their buzzing market town.
The problems started in March when Uttlesford District Council cut the parking times at Saffron Walden Common from a four-hour maximum stay to two hours.
Jacqui Portway, who sells vintage gift and craft items on the market, said the change had had a dramatic impact not just on the market, but on the entire town, with small shops suffering particularly badly.
Jacqui said: “We knew nothing about this change until it happened. It’s hard to describe what a bad effect it’s had on the market and the town centre.”
She said the problem was that people came to the town on market day for a good day out. “They may want to have a meal, go to the
hairdressers, and visit all the shops. They simply can’t do all that in two hours,” she said.
The traders and retailers lobbied the council in April and they backed down on their original decision and settled on a compromise of three hours.
But Jacqui said this move could take up to 18 months to implement and the town is suffering in the meantime.
“We have found out that the council’s survey that brought about the change consulted only 25 people. But we have a petition singed by 1,855 people who want the parking time returned to four hours,” she said.
Council leader Howard Rolfe said: “I fully understand there has been a strong reaction from the very people we were trying to support.
“Retailers feel that two hours will inhibit business and, as a
consequence, we increased the time from two to three hours, which is in line with the Fairycroft car park.
“We think that this is the right balance. We will review our position in around 12 months time.”
Jacqui said she had spoken to Coun Rolfe personally and he had told her the aim was to achieve the “churn factor”.
He explained to her that meant different sets of shoppers arriving and leaving in two-hour slots. Jacqui believes the council wants to increase its annual income from car parking from over £700,000 a year to £1 million.
“The problem is that it isn’t working. The Common car park is now half empty when it used to be full and some small shops are doing so badly they are struggling to survive,” she said.
There are alternative car parks, but one, Swan Meadow, was too far for elderly people, she said.
“This isn’t about me or my business, or even just the market. I love Saffron Walden. It has been named as one of the best places to live. But this change is damaging the town and town centre businesses and we are determined to fight it,” she added.
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