Croydon’s ignored businesses campaign on parking changes

Road to nowhere: businesses in South End are concerned that potential customers, unable to park, will drive past

It has long been alleged that Croydon’s Tory-run council pays no attention to residents or its employees.

Now we learn that Cameron’s Crazy Conservative Council does not bother listening to local businesses, either.

A survey published this week by the Federation of Small Businesses – hardly a bunch of rabid left-wing Trots – has found that 90 per cent of local commercial organisations have had no contact from Croydon Council, do not believe that the council is interested in their concerns, or they have “contacted the council about local issues affecting their business and got nowhere”.

The survey is part of a London-wide poll conducted by the FSB following the Government’s decision to axe funding to many local business support services.

Compared to the rest of London, according to the FSB survey, Croydon Council comes out significantly worse in its relationship with local businesses.

In nearby Kingston, for instance, 20 per cent of local businesses stated that their council was sympathetic when contacted about a local issue. In Croydon’s next-door borough Sutton, twice as many businesses reported favourably that their local council had contacted them to ask for their views on local issues.

This ought to be of particular concern to the self-serving Conservatives who run Croydon Council, since most of them own local businesses themselves.

Based on its survey findings, the business lobby group forms the view that Croydon Council has opted to ignore smaller local businesses.

The FSB’s report says, “It is striking that while only 6 per cent of respondents said they had been contacted by their council to ask for their views, 50 per cent of businesses with over 250 employees had been consulted.  This obviously suggests that councils are engaging with bigger businesses, and not their smaller counterparts.  Equally, larger businesses had found local authorities sympathetic to their needs.  Conversely, small businesses were more inclined to believe the council was not interested their views on local issues.

“It is notable that the Croydon figures closely match those for London as a whole, but there should be concern that for every five businesses who contact the Council, only one reports that they find the Council sympathetic to their issue. This is a perception the Council needs to address.

“The figures show that Croydon would do well to engage better with their local businesses and the Council should, having signed it, ensure that every department works to the spirit of the FSB’s Small Business Engagement Accord.”

In common with the rest of London, the leading concern for local business in Croydon is the council’s policy on car parking.

A new, money-raising scheme to allow the Council’s parking stormtroopers to ticket and fine cars parked in South End after 5pm from Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday has prompted a furious response from the local restaurants florists and other small shops.

One local landmark pub, the Swan and Sugarloaf, closed last year, its business adversely affected by existing parking restrictions, leaving the historic prime site vacant for more than six months and making it vulnerable to redevelopment.

Local businesses have already collected hundreds of signatures in a petition against the council’s plan to extend parking restriction hours.

The changes to controlled parking zones surrounding the central zone would see drivers charged to park between 8am and midnight, seven days a week.

“It’s another nail in the coffin of small business. The restaurateurs are up in arms,” said Alfonso Camisotti, spokesman for South End Traders’ Association.

“We need people to come here park and have a nice time, but if you are going to be shoved into a car park and it’s raining you don’t want to have to walk through it. People will go to Sutton or Bromley.”

Thing is, even the few public car parks in South End all charge, and one of those is notoriously ill-lit and subject to break-ins to vehicles.

Representations to the council need to be received by Friday, February 4.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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