Folkestone car parking charges 'harming town's trade'

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Shopkeepers in a Kent town say new car parking charges are harming their businesses.

Traders in Folkestone said their takings had decreased by an average of 30% since the introduction of parking permits and charges on 17 September.

Shepway District Council said the new parking restrictions were brought in to reduce congestion.

Business owners shared their evidence with the council at a meeting on Monday.

Martyn Jackson, who owns a sports and fashion shop in Folkestone, said customers would come back to the town if the first two hours of parking were free of charge.

"We don't want them to scrap the parking charges as such, we want them to do it in a different way," he said.

"We need something done for next week. Consumers are already making their decisions where they're going to shop for Christmas."

Surprised at speed

Folkestone's town centre manager John Barber said he was surprised a fall in trade had happened so quickly.

"We knew there would be problems because decreasing the number of free parking areas and increasing the number of pay and display areas was never going to be very helpful in a very difficult situation."

In March, Shepway residents voted to reject the introduction of the parking permits and on-street charging.

Bob Porter, head of communities at the council, said the council was concerned by the drop in trade.

He said: "There is some misunderstanding amongst the public about the new scheme. We are planning to launch a publicity campaign across the district to make it absolutely clear to people who want to come and shop in Folkestone how they should go about it."

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