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Trade down 20 per cent in Enfield Town after 'political suicide' Sunday parking charges
Businesses in Enfield Town have called for the council to scrap Sunday parking charges after a 20 per cent drop in trade.
Traders spoken to by the Enfield Independent said the charges introduced by Enfield Council last month – which are the same as weekday prices except for a special £1 rate for two hours parking – were causing shoppers to flock to out-of-town centres where they could park for free.
A petition launched by Conservative councillors calling for 20 minutes free on-street parking and a reversal of Sunday charges has gained more than 210 signatures online, and hundreds more on paper versions distributed in shops in the town centre.
Chris Theodoulou, who has run Emma Claire hairdressers in Church Street for 36 years, said the council had “committed political suicide” because the reaction from his customers had been so strong.
He said: “Our rates have gone up, the parking’s gone up – all the good they did for the town centre after the riots has been destroyed.
“We all understand that they need to charge for parking but be fair – reduce our rates or make it free to park after 4pm because it’s a ghost town come 5pm.
“We were thinking of opening on Sundays but we won’t now. We used to open late four nights a week before all this but we’ve cut that to one.”
His comments were echoed by Aaron Pudney, deputy manager of Waitrose in Palace Gardens Shopping Centre, who said the store’s takings had been cut by 20 per cent on Sundays since the charges – that could put £100,000 a year in the council’s coffers – were introduced on January 8.
He added: “The council needs to think of other ways it could make that £100,000 a year – we’d even be willing to pay them a fee with other businesses to make up that amount because we’d be better off doing that.
“I don’t think they are looking at it from the customer’s perspective – it might only be £1 but a lot of it is principle – why should people pay that when they can go down to Tesco or Morrisons and park for free?”
All of the traders spoken to by the Enfield Independent rejected an idea by Councillor Chris Bond (Lab), cabinet member for environment, that businesses could validate customers’ parking on a Sunday and refund the £1 at the checkout.
Angelos Agathangelou, who runs the Papadelli Sandwich Bar in Church Street, said there was “no way” he could afford to do that – or to carry on losing the 20 per cent of customers he estimates have gone elsewhere.
He said: “It’s stopping people from coming to the town centre or to stop here for coffee – they’re always in a rush and looking at their watches because they don’t want to pay more to park.
“It costs too much money to park in Enfield anyway – we’ve worked hard to build up Sunday trade and it needs to go back to the way it was before we lose it altogether.”
Cllr Bond said yesterday that he was willing to meet concerned traders to discuss the move again, but said that he had carried out thorough consultation before the decision was taken last year.
If the paper and online versions of the petition – which is also being backed by Enfield Town’s seven churches – gain more than 2,750 signatures it will force the issue to debated in full council again.