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Why won't the council help us survive?

PUBLISHED: 12:48 10 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:08 25 August 2010

TRADERS fighting the toughest recession in decades are demanding the council take action over restrictive parking, which nearly bankrupted one owner hit with £4,000 in fines.

TRADERS fighting the toughest recession in decades are demanding the council take action over restrictive parking, which nearly bankrupted one owner hit with £4,000 in fines.

Owner of Louise's Florists, Louise Connor, claims her flower business in Sidcup High Street nearly went bust due to fines in a street where she has to park in order to pick up and drop off goods.

On one occasion she was loading her car up with flowers for a funeral and when she returned a ticket was on her window.

She slammed wardens for their 'sly' tactics and said: "They were waiting for me inside the sandwich shop and ran back in after putting a ticket on.

"We are trying to run a business, it's so hard at the moment, especially as we are at the end of the street.

"You would have thought the council would be more lenient considering they are trying to find ways of picking up trade and shoppers."

The High Street, once thriving, now has 15 units lying empty, prompting Bexley council to canvass over 500 visitors to find out what needs to be done to revive Sidcup's community hub.

Suggestions included creative lighting and new furniture but when asked by the Bexley Times, traders said they want urgent and practical action over parking.

Javed Anwer owns Fancy World, an accessories shop. Mr Anwer said: "The main reason trade is slow is down to parking.

"People drive past, see the shop, but they can't stop anywhere close by. They can go to Morrisons but it's a long walk. The vast majority of my customers, 90 per cent, tell me they have to walk too far to get here, especially so for elderly people.

"I want the council to provide more bays, I am certain more customers will definitely come if they made an effort to provide more spaces. The results would be significant almost straight away."

Mem Ahmet, manager of Top Cuts barber shop said: "People park up to go to the bank to get some cash for a hair cut and a few bits and pieces, come back and they have a parking ticket. That's why they don't come.

"It's hard enough being between Bromley, Bexleyheath and Bluewater shopping centres without added problems."

The council's Action Plan is aimed towards attracting more private investment to fill empty units. Ideas drafted in July included public art, creative lighting and a face lift for the High Street.

Councillor Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Transport said: "Sidcup has the second largest number of car park spaces in Bexley (467).

"Traders may load and unload vehicles for up to 40 minutes so long as they are doing so continuously and so long as loading is not prohibited, as indicated by markings on the kerb.

"In addition, there are over 40 parking bays just off the High Street, along with numerous bays in many other roads in the area."

He said the High Street is too narrow to introduce parking bays and added: "Sidcup is one of the key economic centres of the borough, with lots of great shops and local businesses - there's no excuse for not paying it a visit."

The town is undergoing nearly £2 million of improvements to bring visitors into the area. Stage one of traffic improvement is complete and stage two is set to start after gas works are completed.

A spokeswoman for Bexley council said Sidcup Town Area Renewal project has begun with unnecessary signs being removed to reduce clutter, street furniture being repainted, new bins installed.

Links between Morrison's and the town centre will be enhanced and planting for Nesbitt Walk is set to start.

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