Shopkeepers and retailers – both local and big high street names – have been on a hiding to nothing in recent years.
With the ever increasing number of shoppers switching to online purchasing from the comfort of their own homes shops have seen their footfall decrease dramatically.
And now to add insult to injury Portsmouth City Council is looking at plans to increase car parking charges in the city centre in a bid to dissuade motorists from driving to the area – all part of an attempt to cut air pollution.
Portsmouth City Council was previously warned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that unless it could show it could get air pollution in the city to a ‘safe’ level a blanket chargeable zone would be imposed on the city.
That prompted a move which would see petrol vehicles registered prior to 2006 and diesel cars from before 2015 subject to up to £20 a day to drive in the city.
Now drivers could be spared a congestion charge-style fee in a clean air zone with lorries, taxis, coaches and buses that do not reach a certain standard taking the £20 hit.
Retailers have reacted angrily to the possible move, saying charging more for people to park could ‘crucify’ struggling shops.
The city council is in something of a no-win situation. On one hand they are being forced by government to create a clean air zone while on the other they have to try and balance that with the needs of the city’s residents, retailers and businesses.
City environment cabinet member, Councillor Dave Ashmore, hit back saying ’radical measures’ needed to be introduced.
He said: ‘It is something that’s got to be looked at. We have to sympathise with the local businesses but sometimes we require radical measures.’
One thing is for sure, the problem is not going to go away and we can only hope that a solution is found quickly that will appeal to everyone.