Business owners have been left angry at changes to on-street parking permits, claiming that it will negatively impact their business.
From 31 January 2020, business parking permits – which allow business vehicles to park in any pay-and-display bays in the Controlled Parking Zone in the town centre – will be limited to a maximum stay of two hours following a review by Bedford Borough Council.
A letter sent to business owners stated: ‘Our review has shown that some businesses are using these permits to park on-street all day, contrary to the conditions of use.
“Such all day parking prevents these spaces being used by visitors to the town and by residents.”
Dawn Knights, regional operations manager at Osborne Appointments told the Bedford Independent, “It will impact our business because we have recruitment consultants who need to attend meetings, and will also take candidates to job interviews and shifts so that they themselves can secure work.
“Therefore our cars need to be close by. Having to move cars at intervals will have a disruptive impact on the business.
“There is also a wider issue in as much as it also affects business who are looking to hire. When you are hiring, it is a huge dis-incentive to prospective employees if parking is expensive or unavailable.
“Naturally there needs to be a fair balance for shoppers and visitors. But it is important to remember that hundreds of employees in the town put significant amounts of money into Bedford centre.
“They use and spend money in the town centre regularly, in many cases daily. If this policy has the impact of driving businesses out of town then that investment is lost.
“Will it be easily replaced by increased shoppers?”
A Borough Council spokesperson said, “The purpose of the business permits is to allow businesses that are in the Controlled Parking Zone to carry out their work.
“The conditions state that they are not intended to provide all-day on street parking; they are not designed to act as alternatives to season tickets.
“Any permits that may be used in this way are taking up spaces that then cannot be used by customers, visitors to the town or by residents who live in the area.
“From 31 January 2020, anyone using a business parking permit can stay in a particular location for a maximum period of two hours.
“This should not inconvenience businesses that are using the permits to carry out their duties, visiting properties or customers within the CPZ.”
Dawn believes that reducing the price of parking for shoppers and businesses would have a positive impact on the town centre.
“We want to support all types of businesses, therefore the solution is to reduce the cost of parking across the board and encourage more drivers into the town rather than sending people to retail parks where parking is free,” she said.
“Businesses in the town should receive discounts for the car parks this way you wouldn’t have to worry about the shoppers.
“The inference that it is rich executives using the parking is simply not the case. It is normal workers trying to make a decent living to support their families who will be affected.
“Our office is based next to Lurke street and a season ticket would cost each employee an extra £1400 per year after tax.
“We can’t go further, as this would add more time restrictions on our day and impact our business.”