Parking charges ‘hurting business’

BUSINESSES in Skegness, struggling with the global recession and a dismal start to the summer season, feel ‘let down’ by parking charges in the town.

A petition urging East Lindsey District Council to lower its charges has been signed by traders on Skegness foreshore, who have also requested support from the town council.

Coun Danny Brookes, who recently joined the town council and is also a foreshore kiosk owner, instigated the petition and has already collected more than 30 signatures.

He said: “We think it’s unfair that parking charges in Skegness cost £6 whereas Woodhall Spa has free parking and Louth and Mablethorpe only have £2 charges.

“We’ve also heard that they are putting the charges up - I know they need the revenue but to put it up when people are really struggling could kill off many businesses.

“A lot of the Skegness traders don’t feel as though they are getting a fair crack from the district council and they want something done about it.”

Councillors at last Wednesday’s direction and strategy committee shared many of the traders’ concerns but feared their campaign to lower charges would be a difficult one.

Coun Phil Kemp, who also sits on the district council, felt it was ‘incredible’ that free parking was available in the affluent town of Woodhall Spa, whereas car parks in Skegness, which is one of the most deprived areas in the region, have a high hourly fee.

However he felt it was unlikely that charges would be lowered significantly as ELDC was looking to ‘maximise parking as best they can because it’s one of the few ways they’ve got to make money.’

In addition to their call for support on the issue of parking charges, numerous traders had already contacted the town council to raise concerns over trading levels and visitor numbers.

Many of those at the meeting felt the dismal weather had been the most significant obstacle for businesses to overcome and felt the town needed more indoor attractions to counter this.

A report from the town manager Stefan Krause supported this view, as it identified businesses in covered areas such as the Hildreds Centre and amusement arcades as faring far better than those outdoors.

Coun Brookes has since confirmed the recent improvement to the weather has given his profits a welcome boost, but he fears it may be too little too late for many.