Swiss Cottage businesses plead: ‘Make parking easier to save independent shops’
- Credit: Archant
Businesses in Swiss Cottage have called on Camden Council to relax parking restrictions near their Finchley Road shops to give them a much-needed boost.
Fiona Bowrey, who has run Snappy Snaps in the area for 32 years, and Rohit Patel, from card shop Paper Art, both told this newspaper coronavirus has made life very difficult for them, and they need help to get customers back through the doors.
Fiona said: “While we were closed, online scooped up quite a lot of our business and, the way shopping habits have changed, we’re always going to find it difficult to compete with them. We need to give customers an incentive to come back.”
She said: “Our concern is about the whole area – there are so many independent shops and relaxing parking restrictions, even just giving people a free hour parking would encourage families to come out.”
Rohit has run Paper Arts since 1983, and said at this stage he felt the government had provided all the help it would, but backed Fiona’s call for the council to consider making parking easier.
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He said: “It’s been hard. Older people still don’t want to come out, and they’re the people who still write cards.
“The council should help. They need to make it easier for people to come down.”
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Fiona’s campaign encouraging people to “love local” was even displayed on a big screen at the nearby O2 Centre.
But a Camden Council spokesperson said the town hall has to “balance the needs of motorists with other – more sustainable – modes of transport”. They added this means “maintaining parking restrictions and providing more space for pedestrians”.
Business chief Cllr Danny Beales (Lab, Kentish Town) said: “Our response to support businesses through this period has been swift and met positively by our businesses community. However, we know the months ahead will continue to be challenging.”
He said the town hall is “continuing to make the necessary changes to streets across Camden in order to respond to the road safety challenges presented by Covid-19”.
Camden is now consulting on the future of our high streets, see camdenfuturehighstreets.commonplace.is/about,