FURIOUS traders on Sandy Lane fear they could go out of business or have to let staff go following a controversial council decision to pass through pay-and-display parking plans for the street.
Last week the Advertiser reported on the council decision to vote through amended proposals for the scheme as part of its major service review.
But traders spoke of their shock that the amendment – which added a permit scheme – was passed despite officers advising the proposal be removed from the cost-cutting service review following a public consultation. A petition collected in several shops has been signed by more than 1,500 people so far.
Chris Cookson, of Cookson's Butchers, said: “It is absolutely disgusting. I genuinely think that they are trying to put us out of business. A lot of my customers come to me because they can park outside the shop, and if spaces are taken up by people staying for hours on end, then I will lose those customers. We will definitely suffer and I've not heard from one person who believes that the pay and display parking is a good idea. Cllr Nicola Price-Roberts (Labour) dropped off a petition in to the shop a few weeks ago and so far we have around 300 signatures on it.I have to keep it going or I will get put out of business.”
Steve Popely, of Survey Operations, said: “While I appreciate Cllr Westley and his supporters are trying to plug a serious budget shortfall, they should at least listen to the findings of their (and our) own council officers and indeed, the views of Old Skelmersdale residents and businesses.”
Derek Rothwell, manager of Rowlands, said: “I'm certainly not very happy about the proposals, both on a personal basis and also out of concern for my staff and customers.
“It's detrimental to the area without a doubt. People resent paying for parking and will go elsewhere to find it.”
James McCormick, of Bargain Booze on Sandy Lane, said: “The idea is a complete joke, its an absolute scandal.
“In this economy, for a small shopping centre in a small town to charge for parking is a disgrace. I employ 12 people and the introduction of car parking charges could effect my business to a point where I have to lose staff.”
Cllr David Westley said last week that the council had been “happy to listen and amend” the original proposals [to include the permit scheme] after concerns were raised during consultation.