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Enfield Council rejects call to scrap Sunday parking charges to cries of 'shame'
Enfield Council has rejected a call from traders with a 7,500-strong petition to scrap Sunday parking charges in Enfield Town to cries of “shame”.
In a passionate meeting at Enfield Civic Centre last night, traders appealed to Labour councillors for the charges, introduced in January amid strong opposition from businesses, churches and motorists, to be reversed immediately after a downturn in footfall in the town centre.
But Councillor Chris Bond, cabinet member for environment, said the charges would remain until at least the autumn, when a borough-wide review of parking would be completed, and added the traders’ opinions would be fed into that.
As the motion by Conservative councillors to scrap the charges and introduce 20 minutes free parking across the borough was voted down by the Labour group, there were shouts of “shame” from the public gallery.
Patricia Blair, chairwoman of the Palace Gardens Traders Association, told the council how footfall in the shopping centre on a Sunday had dropped by 12.4 per cent – or 27,469 people – since the charges, which are the same as weekday prices except for a special £1 rate for two hours parking, were introduced.
She added: “Every single trader I speak to is reporting a decline in sales. The current charges policy is driving people to out-of-town retail parks, and it’s putting the future of our town centre at risk.”
And Chris Theodoulou, owner of Emma Claire hairdressers in Church Street, agreed, saying: “We are the longest running independent business in Enfield Town, we’ve been here for 36 years.
“I love Enfield, I have raised my children here. This is not political – my business is in decline and this is the first year I have not employed an apprentice. Parking is one of the major factors.
“These are unprecedented times and we need unprecedented action.”
Conservative environment spokesman Councillor Terry Neville had earlier pointed towards the recent Mary Portas review of town centres as evidence that parking charges would cripple trade in the town centre.
But Cllr Bond said that he introduced the charges to stop people parking in Enfield Town for long periods on a Sunday while they travelled into central London for shopping or to watch football.
He added: “There was a problem. But I have always said that we will review it within 12 months of bringing it in to see if it’s had an effect.
“The Portas review said councils should look at parking charges to give the best outcome for town centres.
“What the traders have said tonight is part of our review – that starts now. I’m more than happy to meet any churches or shopkeeper groups to talk about this.”
Before the meeting, around 20 protestors held banners outside the Civic Centre in Silver Street calling for the council to scrap the charges.