Parking charges will put city centre under strain

PUBLISHED: 11:35 11 October 2011

The council should be managing the development of this growing community. It is not. It isn't listening to its residents' concerns

COUNCILLORS from East Cambridgeshire District Council have chosen this week to announce a proposal to charge for parking in Ely. They do so against all sensible advice- against the views of 12,000 residents who have signed a petition, and against the views of those who attended a public meeting on this issue. And they have chosen to announce this in the very week that Tesco have begun to promote their plans for an enormous out-of-town Tesco Extra store. The timing of this announcement should alarm everyone who cares about Ely.

Ely is still a thriving market town with a massive range of independent stores and a good mix of national names, but for how long? Our city centre is being put under severe strain by the introduction of the new out-of-town Sainsburys. Now Tesco have begun promoting their enormous mega-store and retail complex. All with massive free car parks. This Tesco store will have much increased capacity for non-food retail: shoes and clothing, electrical goods, toys, stationnery, books, homeware, interiors, DIY etc. More retail outlets and restaurants are to sit around what could be a Bar Hill sized store.

Spare a thought for a moment for what is to become of Ely city centre. Spare a thought now, because the timing of this announcement to charge in all the city’s car parks shows that the council certainly is sparing no thought. The council should be managing the development of this growing community. It is not. It isn’t listening to its residents’ concerns. Instead, the council is listening to the supermarkets. Lured by the millions of pounds that can pay for projects like the southern bypass, they seem blind to the real consequences. But what is even worse, is that the district council is, at the same time, quite openly prepared to display its lack of planning and its lack of care in sacrificing the heart of its community. The council should be explaining how they are going to protect local businesses and the jobs of all those who work in the city centre. But this week they have chosen instead to put forward a proposal which will yet further disadvantage its city centre businesses.

ANDREW OLLEY

Ely Traders’ Association

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