A Market Rasen business owner has suggested he ‘could go bust’ following the introduction of car parking charges in the town later this month.
Darren Lince, who owns the Advocate Arms, has voiced fears for the future of his business. He says he could be facing staff redundancies and could even go bust.
The shocking revelation comes as his overheads are set to increase dramatically from April 1 following an annual business rates re-evaluation.
Mr Lince told the Mail: “From April 1, my business rates go up from £9,300 per year –which they are at the moment – to £51,750.
“I’ll go from paying £100 per week now to £600 .
“It’s making it impossible for businesses to operate.
“If you’ve got sales coming down and overheads going up by 456 per cent then it will put the business at risk.
“After the introduction of parking charges in Brigg six or seven years ago, there was a 28 per cent decrease in trade.
“If Market Rasen experiences a similar decline with rising costs then we will go bust. That’s business and that’s got to apply to nearly every single shop on the high street.”
Mr Lince considers free parking is Market Rasen’s ‘unique selling point’ which gives it an advantage over other Lincolnshire market towns such as Brigg or Horncastle.
He was also one of the directors of the ‘MR BIG’ scheme which identified free parking as ‘key’ in Rasen.
He added: “From all the in-house and external surveys we had going on in the town, the one thing that we were told to keep was our free parking. It just shows how little engagement the West Lindsey District Council had with local businesses.”
Mr Lince described the introduction of parking charges as a ‘mental barrier’ deterring shoppers from visiting the town.
He hopes to combat this by offering to repay parking charges back to his customers.
He said: “It’s not really about parking being unaffordable - it’s the mental barrier imposed by the charges.
“People have lived here for years and have never had to pay for parking – why now they should have to?
“If you go shopping in Marshall’s Yard (in Gainsborough) you get your charges back.
“They’ve got all the points of sale articulating how people can get their car parking charges back and the machines print a voucher for proof.
“Everyone has been very positive and supportive about the re-imbursement initiative.
“Everybody without exception thinks charging for car parking is crazy, so anything we can do to minimise the cost to customers and show them support has been appreciated.”
WLDC Prosperous Communities Committee Chairman Owen Bierly said: “The idea of introducing a car parking charge to Market Rasen is a way of trying to support local businesses.
“It is hoped it will increase the turnover of spaces for shoppers in the town, rather than commuters parking up all day.”
The parking charges come into force on January 30.
Charges will range from 30p for up to one hour to £1.95 for six or more hours.