'We've lost the blood that keeps the place flowing' - anger as free parking scheme scrapped (From Harrow Times)
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Anger as free parking scheme scrapped in North Harrow's Cambridge Road Car Park
It now costs more to leave your car in North Harrow than it does to buy a pint of milk or a loaf of bread after a free parking scheme was scrapped.
Harrow Borough Council has recently brought in charges of 80p per hour at its Cambridge Road car park - despite a petition of more than 3,000 signatures.
Traders say they have noticed a dramatic fall in customers since the charges were introduced on January 6.
Robbie Nevins, manager at Wenzels Bakery in Pinner Road, said: “Customers are getting very fed up and they say they aren’t going to come in anymore.
“And when it costs them more to park than it does to buy a loaf of bread, who can blame them?”
The hour's free parking was introduced to the car park in 2004, and many shops used it as a selling point.
Jade Pharmacy still has a banner advertising the free car park on their shop front, which staff now say is an “ironic” reminder of what used to be.
Manager Manoj Sheth said: “It’s been terrible. Customers have been complaining and we can’t expect them to pay 80p to pick up a prescription.
“It’s gone quiet around here since this happened and we’ve lost the blood that keeps this place flowing.”
Although there are plans to introduce 20 minutes of free parking in the high streets, this will not extend to the borough’s car parks.
The meter does not give change - meaning those who put a £1 coin into the meter to park for one hour are left 20p out of pocket.
The Gym, which opened last year, costs just £17.99 for a monthly membership - but if customers spend around one hour there every day of the week, parking could cost £20.
Pinner resident Joyce Wersky said: “It’s sad as the gym opened on the premise that there would be free parking. Quite frankly, the whole scheme is a recipe for disaster."
Paul’s Barbers, a family owned business, say they have lost 25 per cent in takings this month and are struggling to stay afloat.
David Fishburn, owner of Inform Print & Design, added: “Scrapping this scheme is wasteful. I think it will kill North Harrow.”
Independent councillor James Bond launched a petition against the charges, and is now supporting a new petition by Harrow Council's Labour group.
Cllr Bond said: “It’s a bitter blow for North Harrow. This is grossly unfair. We don’t want people to give up on North Harrow. It used to be booming - but this will turn it into a ghost town again.”
A statement from council leader Councillor Susan Hall said: "The one hour of free parking in North Harrow was removed and charges were introduced prior to us forming the council's administration, but parking charges need to be fair for everyone and the new rates are now in line with other car parks across the borough.
“The proposed 20-minute free parking scheme is aimed at encouraging short stay, high turnover on-street parking, which there is lots of demand for, and would not be suitable for car parks where motorists usually park for longer periods."
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