Stroud Town Council is demanding Stroud District Council postpone any increases or introduction in parking charges until a joint parking study can be completed.
The Town Council is calling on Stroud District Council, Gloucestershire County Council and the Stroud & District Chamber of Trade and Commerce to work together on a joint parking study.
Mayor of Stroud Kevin Cranston said: “The Town Council, just as Stroud District Council, has declared a climate emergency and recognises the importance of enabling people to walk, cycle or use buses and trains, but until the right infrastructure and services are in place people will still want to use their cars.
“As the only town in the district without free parking, higher charges are likely to divert shoppers to other towns, even if that means a longer car journey, resulting in greater fuel use.”
The Town Council supported Stroud District Council with research which led to some welcome changes to the parking regime in Stroud, for example the extension of the Free After Three scheme to the London Road outdoor car park and changes to charging times which came into force on 1st February.
“We are disappointed about the lack of consultation with the Town Council and the Chamber of Trade about these planned increases, which only came to light in unofficial statements on social media,” said Councillor Cranston.
The Town Council’s Regeneration Working Group, in which SDC and GCC participate, has already identified a concern about the lack of joined-up thinking on parking in the town centre.
“We note that Gloucestershire County Council has started a consultation on on-street parking, which may also lead to additional parking charges,” said Councillor Cranston.
“What Stroud really needs is an holistic study of parking issues covering on-street parking; public and private car parks, including the station; spaces for blue badge parking, loading and deliveries; so that a sensible plan can be drawn up. We need to work together on the solution.”
Stroud & District Chamber of Trade and Commerce agrees. Tony Davey, Chairman of the Stroud & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce, said: “We note that the SDC budget for parking budget anticipates income of £763,000 from Stroud’s car parks in the 2022-23 financial year, of which £50,000 is to be spent on car parks outside of Stroud and £55,000 on enforcement, leaving a surplus of £659,000. We would welcome a discussion about how that income could be used to support the regeneration of Stroud town centre.”
Both the Chamber of Trade and the Town Council are concerned about the timing of increases as businesses get back on their feet with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions come to an end.
“There are many factors at play – continuing isolation and Covid concerns, fear over the impact of energy price rises and overall concerns about cost of living rises,” says Councillor Stella Parkes, Chair of the Regeneration Committee.
“Small businesses are not immune from these concerns, with price hikes from suppliers, their own rises in energy costs, extra burdens on overseas supply chains and export, whilst also battling to keep their businesses afloat in the most difficult trading environment in recent history.
“Sadly many businesses have told the Chamber that they are not planning on renewing leases in March or that they are pessimistic about the future. Across the District, with Stroud Town far from immune, businesses are already closing at a concerning rate or have recently closed. Whilst remaining strong during restrictions, the additional stresses and barriers to success that post-official restrictions have brought are too much to bear.”