Sign of the times tells of councils, morons and traffic wardens

Our loyal reader has been in touch again, this time after thumbing through the pages of a trade magazine. Oh yes. Things are rarely more exciting.

The writing's on the glass, if not on the wall, for independent retailers in South Croydon as well as Shropshire

The writing’s on the glass, if not on the wall, for independent retailers in South Croydon as well as Shropshire

But after pointing out the story (see below), our loyal reader makes a very good point: “Could this be what is happening in South Croydon?” they ask.

Our loyal reader runs a shop in what someone, somewhere, who is doubtless paid thousands of pounds by Croydon Council as a “consultant”, has decided to call the “Restaurant Quarter”.

The shop-owner does not run a restaurant. Indeed, in common with the majority of businesses in the “Restaurant Quarter”, his business has nothing to do with food. But no one at the council, nor in the expensively hired consultancy, ever bothered asking our loyal reader for their opinion.

And as the shop-owner says, as they look up from their copy of their trade magazine, “This story is a telling indictment of what is happening to many small retailers all over the country when their business is getting squeezed from all directions.”

Take a read and make up your own mind…

After shutting its doors for good, the owners of the County Music Supplies shop have left a message on their window lambasting the local council.

The shop on Wyle Cop in Shrewsbury officially closed on Saturday 16th February. Before throwing in the towel, however, the shop’s owner commissioned sign writer Andy Field to paint a notice to customers, explaining why they have left the High Street.

The sign reads:

“Due to increasing costs, high rates, and the morons who make Shrewsbury’s parking policies and the wardens that enforce them making our customers lives a misery, we have decided to withdraw our business from the high street.”

Field told local newspaper the Shropshire Star: “They are yet another victim of the parking charges and the new Sunday charges have merely put the lid on the issue for them. It’s a sad sign of the times and another blow to the town centre.”

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5 Responses to Sign of the times tells of councils, morons and traffic wardens

  1. I was told that it would cost £50,000 for the borough to have free short-stop parking in South End and that the borough could not afford the revenue that is subsidising the council’s activities.

    Meanwhile, the biggest exporters (and therefore earners of foriegn exchange, i.e. those that increase the wealth of the area) in South End are the music shops and associated industries and we are killing them off with oppressive parking charges. The small food outlets are in an even more iniquitous position: a person stops for a healthy midday meal in South End worth say £5 – £1 of the £5 will go in VAT, plus £1.50 parking charge….. the tax on the transaction therefore = £2.50; the cafe owner often has negligible or zero profit, due to the overhead costs (rent, heat, light, wages etc)…

    It is time small businesses who serve their local communities are put on the same kind of tax footing as online businesses who are not engaged in the same way with local communities

  2. Well if you are going to rob someone to pay for your council HQ you might as well do it taxing something which does an enormous amount of damage throughout the borough. Its just a shame the money raised isn’t being spent on improving the alternatives.

    Motor lobby also has this habit of claiming that if a local business ever runs into trouble its because motorists weren’t prioritised enough? Sadly pervasive idea that taxes and charges on motoring are more than enough to cover the total costs to society of that mode of transport. They are not.

    • Nice idea, Kristian.

      Trouble is, not enough cyclists or pedestrians are using the shops in the “Restaurant” Quarter.

      Four parking spaces, with free 30min parking, ain’t goi g to kill the planet. But it might just save half a dozen businesses

  3. Jonathan Law says:

    I have always maintained that I really had no problem with the South End part of town being called the “Restaurant Quarter” as it has a pleasant ring to it, but have felt that all the other non-restaurant businesses also need to get a break and some promotion too.
    The area which is also well suited to arts and artisan type businesses – which in many ways sit nicely alongside restaurants and a cafe culture, and more could start up and flourish if conditions were favourable.

    The council needs to realise though that South Croydon also has a serious DAYTIME economy that rivals the evening activities of restaurants, bars and pubs, and therefore the current considerations only to give assistance with respect to parking restrictions to help the NIGHT-TIME restaurant trade is a bit lopsided to say the least.

    In fact if you went through South Croydon – maybe from the Flyover all the way along to The Red Deer pub and beyond and did a headcount of the different types of businesses there you would find that the restaurants are actually outnumbered by all the others.
    Many of these businesses are well regarded and also bring in many visitors from a long way outside the borough, especially those who offer unique or specialised products or services.
    While visiting many of these out of town day-trippers do stop for a bite to eat or drink, thus benefitting the cafes, bars and eateries too. And don’t forget that the local business owners and staff also shop and eat locally too, both during the day and in the evening too.

    The council officers need to consider all these businesses, and not just the ones where they can get a nice Cappuccino when they have a planning meeting. A policy of only favouring certain types of business will end in FAILURE . All these businesses are important to the local eco-system.

  4. Whose road is it anyway?
    The needs of the retailers are incompatible with those of motorists going into and out of central Croydon.
    And since there is no obvious solution that will satisfy everyone, local councillors – all three of them – are keen to avoid saying anything that sounds like taking sides.
    That’s the reason for all the blather about a ‘restaurant quarter’. Croydon Council hasn’t gone gourmet. It’s just created a PR device to highlight those businesses that conflict least with traffic.
    Councillors are happy to provide parking bays, particularly in difficult economic times when they represent a handy form of extra revenue to bolster expenses claims. But free parking defeats the councillors’ objectives.
    One solution might be to encourage retailers to move to a traffic-free environment well served by public transport and with adequate, modestly-priced off-road parking.
    New or refurbished units would be more expensive than existing ones, so a commercially competent economic development authority – no, we don’t have one in Croydon – would offer tapering rent subsidies to allow transferring businesses to grow their turnover to meet the added cost of their new premises over, say, five years.
    Some would fail, but others would prosper and secure the long-term future of local shopping. In South Croydon, with suitable modification, I think Ye Market could be a strong candidate.

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