Letter: Retail - councils need a better attitude towards business
As one of Harrogate's longest standing retailers, I find myself writing to complain about Harrogate and North Yorkshire county council's attitude towards business.
In the recent months, they have increased parking charges disproportionately by 17 per cent, they have introduced night parking charges and are about to make Sunday charges.
They have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on a traffic jam causing junction that was perfectly ok beforehand.
I myself was the victim of yet another parking ticket recently, not noticing the dramatic increases in charges.
The number of customers who dash out of our shop because they fear traffic warden harassment is huge.
The result? Unsurprisingly the public have also noticed, and the streets have never been so deserted.
One can now park anywhere on Commercial Street, or on Lower Station Parade.
This is having a knock-on effect that shops cannot sustain the drop in footfall and will shortly have to close.
Rates income will fall, tax payers will have to pick that up, unemployment will increase.
Speaking with one small shop owner, he has not replaced one full timer, because sales are so poor. And the same applies to our business.
A survey of all retailers in Commercial Street and Station Parade reveals that they are all suffering a drop in sales, made even worse recently after the increase in parking fees and the static traffic pouring carbon monoxide into their stores.
Why would anyone want to pay such extortion, when they can stay in and order on the internet?
The heart of Harrogate is being torn out by the short sighted councils and will become a desert land of boarded up, failed shops.
Don’t be worried though, there is plenty of space for more booze bars to form more “no go” areas in Harrogate.
The idiots who called upon Harrogate traders to prove that they will suffer have now the proof of the pudding. What will they do? Nothing!
Like NYCC who admitted at last that the traffic lights were wrong and have decided to do a half hearted fix (that achieved nothing), it will be too late to save the life work of the many small businesses in Harrogate.
All around the UK, councils such as Weymouth, St Albans, Tewksbury, and Sandwell are looking at or have reduced parking charges, some even removing altogether after their towns have been devastated in much the some manner is currently in Harrogate.
Wake up, act before not after for it is too late when you have killed off the livelihoods of the hard-working small businesses.