TRADERS in a Woking town centre street say their takings have dropped hugely because customers can no longer park near by.
Parking spaces in Broadway were lost nine months ago, at the start of the regeneration scheme in the road. They will not be reinstated, as most of the northern side of the street has been designated as a new taxi rank.
This has angered several owners of independent businesses, who are worried that their trade will never pick up.
Jason Richardson, who has run Broadway Furniture Centre with his brother Tony for 24 years, told the News & Mail: “Our trade is down as much as 50%, with a high probability that a lot of our customers will seek elsewhere to shop.”
At the nearby Inn on the Broadway bed and breakfast hotel, owner Julia Dudam says her takings have fallen by 60% since the parking spaces were suspended.
Ali Khan, who runs the iBrokeMyGadget shop, estimates his trade has dropped by around 70%.
Mr Richardson said: “The roadworks started in January and are still going on. This has had a dramatic effect on the small, independent businesses here. Although there is a loading bay, customers can’t park outside any more. A lot of our customers are older people and they are telling me they won’t be coming back because of this.
“I feel this just wouldn’t happen if we were large corporate companies. They would be firing off solicitor’s letters to the council, but we can’t afford to do that.”
The furniture shop was formerly run as Hugh Butcher Ltd and there has been a similar store in the premises for at least 100 years.
Mr Richardson said he had been offered a 25% reduction in business rates but this would not be enough to offset the fall in takings. “The council have been down to see me once in nine months and now my phone calls and emails are not being responded to,” he added.
Mrs Dudman said her B&B relied on business people visiting Woking. “I’m no longer getting bookings from regulars because they can’t park outside overnight,” she said.
“Before, they could park in the road between 6pm and 8.30am for free, but the taxi rank will make that impossible. People are calling to say they are staying elsewhere because the parking has gone.”
Mr Khan said: “The council hasn’t done anything to help us. The new arrangements are a long term gain for them but a life-changing experience for us.”
He said he hoped some parking spaces would be brought back during the day, so that customers could again drop off and collect their items. “We would be happy with some parking during the day and most of the road given over to taxis after 6pm,” he added.
Louisa Callum, Woking integrated transport project manager, said: “The highway improvement works along Broadway and High Street will bring in may benefits to Woking town centre. We appreciate, however, that these works have caused disruption to local businesses. We are currently in direct contact with a number of businesses and have offered appropriate support where they have been able to demonstrate that these works have adversely affected their trade.”
“Local businesses are the lifeblood of any successful town centre and we want to continue to support them where appropriate. We would ask that any local business directly affected by these works contact us with details of how the highway works have affected their business by emailing email@example.com.”