TRADERS are worried that Christmas trade will be hit after it emerged that car clampers won’t be kicked out until the spring.
Business in High Street, Cosham, Portsmouth, are concerned that the presence of City Watch Enforcement, which operates on a council-owned car park behind the Iceland store, will put shoppers off during the festive period this year.
As previously reported in The News, the council has thrashed out a deal to take over parking duties from the unpopular clamping firm, which has taken more than £40,000 from motorists in parking fines since June.
But it has now emerged that City Watch’s contract with Lee Baron, which manages the car park on behalf of the council’s leaseholder Lionsgate Properties, does not expire until April. The deal can’t be broken earlier because there is no evidence to suggest City Watch is in breach of its contract.
Dil Dave, 57, owner of Drapewise, in High Street, Cosham, said the council should introduce free parking on the High Street in the meantime.
‘We normally hold a lot of stock over the festive period, and we don’t do too badly with sales,’ he said.
‘But this year I’m worried about shifting it all. People have been put off Cosham because of the clampers, they’re frightened.
‘The council should have got them out by Christmas.
‘Next year will be too late because everyone who used to shop here would have moved on to somewhere else.
‘In the meantime, the council need to think about introducing a temporary free parking zone on the High Street.’
Tony Broome, 48, secretary of Cosham Business Association and owner of Shoefix, said: ‘When Christmas rolls around, the shops are going to have to pull together to make the area more appealing. If we all make a decent effort the shoppers will come back.
‘They won’t focus on what the clampers have done. We have to weather the storm until they are gone for good.’
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who is chasing up refunds for motorists, said: ‘At the moment I’m looking into whether there is any evidence to suggest City Watch has acted unlawfully.
‘That way steps can be taken to remove them earlier.’