Friday, 18 May 2012

A Simple Tale of Local #Stroud Economics

How a Stroud Parking Fine costs a local cafe business. 

In-town parking charges have been a subject of much discussion for many a long year. They have hit the headlines again in recent months as Mary Portas highlighted them as one of the serious deterrents for potential visitors to local High Streets up and down the UK. 

None more so than in my local town of Stroud in Gloucestershire, where local market traders have reported noticeably less sales this year than last.

Here’s an explanation of that deterrent in plain language, so even Stroud District Council can understand how local people are affected by the economic conditions in 2012. 

I have been running local “Jelly” co-working events in Gloucester, Cheltenham, and Stroud for the benefit of local small business people for most of the last 3 years. All at my own expense, of time and effort (if nothing else, but often including parking fees), with no expected, or offered, recompense whatsoever. No problem, have been happy to do it. 

These various events, often held at local commercial venues such as Pubs and Cafes bring people into the local business, some of whom had not visited the venue before. These folks (including me) then often spend their own hard-earned cash on coffee and/or beer and/or food. 

Today, having parked in a local car park for the usual 4 hours (for £1.80 - how does that compare with yours?), I was delayed, and overstayed by 25 minutes. 6 minutes before I returned to my car I was awarded a parking fine of £50 if paid within 28 days, or 50% discount if paid within 14 days, from the nice man at Stroud District Council. 

Since the parking, and the food and drink come out of my “discretionary spend”, I will now be cancelling my attendance at the venue, where I spend an average of at least £10-15 per week, for 3 weeks in order to recoup the fine, PLUS boycotting my Saturday visits to Stroud for at least the same period, so more of that discretionary spend will also be missing from the local economy - I have a number of other local towns I can visit instead if I prefer. 

That’s my example. I’d like to bet there are others. Please let me know your stories.

Mr or Mrs Stroud District Council, we are not rich nowadays, so where do you expect the money to come from? Yes, that’s right, the local economy! You treat us like that, we vote with our feet. 

Thanks for reading!