For more than 40 years, this large car park has been well used by shoppers in Sedgley and has been an invaluable asset to traders in the village.
But all that changed at the end of November last year, when free parking in Townsend Avenue, behind Monty’s Wine Bar, was abolished almost overnight and replaced with what many residents and traders see as extortionate parking charges.
A recent meeting of Sedgley Traders’ Association was attended by members of the public and traders, who were furious about the unexpected charges and deeply concerned about the impact they say this will have upon trading.
Many residents also brought along demands for payment of parking fines from Chorley-based car park management company, Parking Eye, which some say are extortionate and unexpected.
“Why should every business in Sedgley suffer as a result of this company’s greed?” asked local resident John Spragg, who regularly used to park his car in Townsend Avenue while he visited the village.
His views were echoed by Lee and Helen Seabridge, owners of Beacon Crafts, who say they have already seen a decline in trade as a result of the 60p per hour parking charge.
“Several of our customers are elderly,” said Helen, “and they don’t want to park too far away. This parking charge means they are less likely to come into Sedgley and visit our store, which is obviously bad news for us and many other local traders.”
As well as damaging trade, many local businesses say the new charges have also made coming to work inconvenient for them. Each premise is now only allocated one parking space, yet many of the businesses nearby employ more than one person.
“It’s made life difficult for all traders in Sedgley,” added Laura-Jayne Porter, a stylist at High Street hairdressers Verve 62, formerly known as Christopher’s. “To my knowledge, nobody was ever consulted about the charges – it all came as a complete surprise.”
So, which company is behind these charges and why have they suddenly come in effect?
David Caunt, who has been a councillor for Sedgley since 1970, explains: “It all dates back to 1967, when Dudley council was originally offered the lease for half the car park by the developers behind the shops on High Street.
“When the lease came up for renewal last year, the owners of the land (a joint venture between KUC Properties Limited and Birmingham-based Ciel Properties Limited), decided not to lease it again to the council, meaning it is now completely privately owned. Now, Dudley Council only owns the accesses into the car park – one on High Street and the other on Ettymore Road.”
As a result, Dudley Council says there is little that can be done about the situation, although Sedgley residents and traders have already stopped using the once full car park in favour of much cheaper, but less convenient, alternatives elsewhere in the village. Another point raised at the Traders’ Association meeting was that although people now have to pay to park there, the surface of Townsend Avenue car park is still littered with potentially damaging pot-holes.
What do you think about the parking charges in Townsend Avenue?
Have you found yourself having to pay a large parking fine as a result?
Get in touch with us – we’d love to hear your views.