Worried shopkeepers are growing increasingly concerned over a fall-off in trade following the introduction of car parking charges near their stores.
Mei Wong who helps run neighbourhood cafe Roffey Griddle in Horsham said: “It’s really affecting us badly. The car park charges have halved our business. They’re really making life hell.” She added: “The car park used to be packed and now it’s empty.”
The Griddle has now come up with a promotional offer to try to keep their customers happy and is offering to pay customers’ parking fees if they spend £10 or more in the cafe.
Meanwhile, other shopkeepers have also found their trade hit hard since the charges were introduced by Horsham District Council and they are now planning to band together to submit a formal protest to the council.
Charges for the car park - behind the shops in Godwin Way, Roffey - have to be paid by card. Barbara Holt, who helps run R&H Pet Supplies in Roffey, said: “Not everyone carries cards and this discriminates against them.
“There are too many things against us now. We have to compete with supermarkets and on-line shopping and we recently lost the bank here - and cashpoint - and now they have taken away the parking facilities.”
Sally Strotten-Ellis, a dispenser at Roffey Chemist, said: “We provide a service for the community making deliveries in the morning and afternoon and now we can’t even get our cars in the car park.” She added: “Our customers aren’t happy. They want to nip in and out. It’s definitely affecting our trade.”
She said the chemist had a back-log of prescriptions awaiting collection and feared that people were not getting them because of the parking problems.
A spokeswoman for Horsham District Council said the council was ‘disappointed’ to learn that people were experiencing difficulties but said it had not received any direct complaints. “We are planning to introduce improved signage to the entrance of the car park to inform customers about the card payment method that is needed.
“For frequent users, who would normally use the car park more than 16 times a year and for periods of more than one hour would find it better value to purchase our annual parking disc at £12 a year.” She said that the discs could be used in Billingshurst, Pulborough, Storrington, Steyning and Henfield, as well as in Roffey.