TRADERS fear a village’s new parking permit scheme could drive them out of business.
Business owners in Tynemouth say they are beginning to see a loss in trade following the introduction of new residential parking permits in surrounding streets by North Tyneside Council.
There are also concerns that events planned in the village could be hit as visitors could be deterred by a lack of parking.
Tynemouth Business Forum is calling on the council to relax the new residential permit scheme between 9.30am and 4.30pm to allow shoppers to park in surrounding streets for up to two hours.
Over a two-week period last month, more than 3,000 people – many of them residents – signed a petition supporting the forum’s call.
Forum chairman John Keddy said that since the new new permit scheme and parking layout in Front Street were introduced, some businesses were reporting a drop in trade of between 25 and 50 per cent.
Mr Keddy, owner of the Children of the Revolution kids’ clothing store, said: “We don’t want to take spaces away from residents, but we think we could share these spaces.
“Similar schemes are in place in Morpeth, Jesmond and Yarm and work well. The pendulum has swung too far to the residents.
“We estimate we’ve lost £100,000 in revenue in the village. That’s gone for ever, and we’ll never get it back.
“There are fears businesses will have to lay people off.
“Tynemouth could look a completely different place in the next 12 months unless we can get some resolution.
“All the traders feel passionately about this.
“The council doesn’t seem to realise we have a problem.”
Mark Holmes, owner of the hair salon Headliners, said: “We’re all suffering in our businesses. Our takings are down.
“The over-vigilance of traffic wardens is discouraging people from coming. Customers are getting tickets for dropping people off in an empty taxi rank, so they aren’t coming back.
“We’re not against the residents. We need their support – they are our customers – but we need help from the council as well.”
Jill Snailham, proprietor of Ruby and Frank Boutique, said she counted 130 empty spaces in the permit area on Saturday.
“Customers are coming in to tell us that they will no longer be shopping here as they cannot get parked,” she added.
“Some say they feel they are no longer wanted.”
Traders also say that suggestions by the council that visitors park at Priors Haven car park are unacceptable as it is down a steep hill.
They have also rejected claims that the loss of trade they are seeing is down to the recession or weather.
More than 4,000 people visited Tynemouth earlier this year for a Volkswagen camper van and Beetle rally, and plans are being drawn up for a Christmas festival this year and a food festival next summer.
However, Jill, one of those helping organise the two events, fears that many potential visitors will be put off as they will not be able to park.
A council spokesperson said: “We have listened to the concerns of businesses and recently met both Tynemouth Business Forum and the North Tyneside Business Forum to discuss this issue.
“As a result, we agreed to make many changes and have carried out some already.
“These include providing additional loading bays for the bakery, relocating disabled parking, and changing the maximum stay on Front Street to four hours from two hours.
“We have also arranged for permits for businesses and guesthouses to park in taxi bays, as well as introducing new signage to nearby car parks.
“A reduction on the permit-only parking in Huntingdon Place has also been made to free up extra spaces.
“A report on the options for the scheme moving forward will be considered by both the mayor and the cabinet member for transport and the green environment.
“However, it is important to recognise that the parking scheme for Tynemouth needs to meet the needs of the Tynemouth community – both residents and businesses.
“We have recently consulted with residents on the proposals introduced so far by the council, and the feedback so far suggests that 100 per cent would oppose any proposals to remove any recently introduced residents-only parking areas.”