Published: 07:02, 07 January 2017
Long-established traders fear they will go bust if proposed parking restrictions are imposed in dozens of roads around Strood.
They have attacked council plans to introduce residents’ permits during the day, filling spaces normally used by their customers, as a “slap in the face for small businesses”.
Medway Council carried out an informal public consultation in September and October to gauge the views of nearly 3,000 residents and businesses on controlled parking zones.
Their results revealed that 65% of those responding supported the scheme, and 29% were against, while 45% of people did not complete the questionnaires sent out.
The council said the measures were being considered to “alleviate local parking pressures by restricting non-residents parking outside residential properties”.
The traders’ fight comes as it was revealed that the council made more than half a million pounds by selling parking permits in the last financial year.
Some say the handout was misleading because it did not say the permits were only valid from 8am to 6pm and could not be used at night time.
"This is a slap in the face to small businesses" - salon owner Kelly Saunders
Kelly Saunders, who has run her own hair salon, Ivory, in Weston Road for 22 years, fears a dip in trade could force her to make her seven stylists redundant as well as losing the three apprentices she has taken on.
She said: “It would be disastrous. We have up to 80 clients a day and 95% of them travel by car. Some of them have been coming here for years and travel from as far away as Maidstone.
“They are not going to come here if they have nowhere to park. And we are not on a bus route. This is a slap in the face to small businesses.”
Mrs Saunders, 40, who began at the salon as a trainee, said: “I have worked hard to build up my business and my ladies, who are very hard-working, along with three apprentices, would end up without a job if it closed.”
A two-hour visitor pass can be bought but will not long enough for an average cut, style, perm and colour.
Mrs Saunders said: “It would not work. We would have to hand out the pass and they would drive around to find somewhere to park. Our customers would not want that inconvenience and will go elsewhere. From what we gather, many residents supported the scheme but did not know what they were agreeing to.”
Mandy Bryant, 49, who has run ML Chiropodist in Weston Road for 27 years, believes it will have a devastating impact.
She said: “Many of my patients have been with me right from the start and need to park as close as possible for their treatment.”
Abi De Garis, who runs the Vanity Flair health and beauty business with Sophia Hammond, added the survey was “very misleading”.
Mrs De Garis, 40, said: “We are a very close community here and this will rip us apart. The traders don’t want it, the residents don’t want it. It’s just a way of the council making money. I dread to think what’s round the corner for us.”
Resident Bettina O’Neill is angry about the lack of consultation, and believes people have been “hoodwinked”.
Mrs O’Neill, 59, of Minerva Road, said: “Several people I have spoken to, who originally supported the permit parking, did not know the details of what they were giving support to.
"This is an extra tax on us trying to make a living” - business owner John Gore
“This is a tax on the people who live here and for no reason at all. It does not benefit anyone except the council.”
John Gore, of John Burns TV Rental in Bryant Road, said: “We would have to pay for a business permit which would cost £136 per vehicle. This is an extra tax on us trying to make a living.”
Medway Council said due to the consultation it could not comment.