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A report which was compiled by Mary Portas on behalf of the government, states that local small businesses have been damaged by the increased parking fees in UK town centres. The retail guru has called for a table of parking fees in the UK and schemes which provide free parking.

According to Mary Portas, the removal of free parking which is controlled, makes local town centres uncompetitive, especially when there are alternatives available which are free of charge, like out of town shopping centres. The report points out that consumers will be attracted to the option which provides free parking, rather than pay the increased cost of parking in the local town centre. This is damaging in the long term to the economy and prosperity of the area.

Stefan Barbaruk, Wessex Chambers of Commerce manager said that businesses in Wiltshire have already pointed out the damage caused to local businesses by increasing car parking prices in local town centres. He said:

“It is a very difficult time for small businesses, which I think have been hit hardest over the last three years, and anything from business rate concessions to free parking would help.”

However, Jane Scott, council leader believes that the situation is more complex and isn’t only about charges for car parking. Scott pointed out that if the council don’t receive income from car parking charges, council tax may have to increase by three percent annually. The report made numerous recommendations which include the removal of trading restrictions for market and street traders, in addition to setting up teams to manage the high streets.

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