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Festive free parking is a ‘kick in teeth’ for Axminster traders
Monday, 03 December 2012
Axminster traders are fuming over a free parking offer, saying the timing is wrong and the offer is “a kick in the teeth”.
Each year East Devon District Council (EDDC) waives fees at its car parks in each town for part of a day during the run up to Christmas.
This year’s date in Axminster is Saturday, December 15th, but the offer won’t kick in until 2pm.
Axminster Chamber of Commerce says the initiative will do very little to attract shoppers as very few are left at 2pm.
EDDC offered free parking through Axminster Town Council, which consulted with the chamber to come up with a preferred date after which the application was submitted.
The chamber says it asked for a full day or an earlier slot to make the initiative worthwhile.
Chamber chairman Shane Morgan commented: “Axminster Chamber of Commerce is very disappointed that the district council has again only offered one afternoon’s free parking this year.
“Our members unanimously agreed that given yet another year of difficult trading conditions for town centre businesses, at least one full day of free parking leading up to Christmas would have been of some benefit.
“To yet again only offer one afternoon of free parking from 2pm onwards is a kick in the teeth for the High Street. Our district council should be doing a lot more to help small businesses, but when it comes to cutting car park revenues, it’s as if we were asking EDDC to ‘kill the Golden Goose’, our appeals therefore continue to fall on deaf ears at Knowle district council HQ.
Axminster town clerk Hilary Kirkcaldie said the town council had asked EDDC to reconsider, to no avail.
An EDDC spokesperson said: “EDDC made the same offer to towns and villages that it made last year – that is one afternoon’s free parking on a day of their choice.”
Chamber member Duncan Colvin, who own’s Whitty’s in Axminster, was not impressed. Pointing out that the afternoon starts two hours earlier than 2pm, he said: “It’s [the offer] not even an afternoon.
“We are fighting the attractions of Exeter, and a full day’s free parking would have given us a real opportunity to market the town as an alternative.”
In a further statement, the EDDC spokesperson said: “Each town was offered an afternoon of their choice as a concession across the district.
It was seen as the fairest outcome for everyone.”
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Sir Ray Tindle
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