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'Concerns' about viability of 'struggling' town centres across Cannock Chase

By Jordan Reynolds | Cannock Chase | Business | Published:

Residents have "concerns" about the viability of "struggling" town centres across Cannock Chase amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cannock town centre

The concerns were highlighted in a discussion by Cannock Chase District Council on Wednesday about a motion for a "parking charge holiday" for three months while a review takes place.

It was hoped the lack of parking charges would increase footfall and attract people into the town centres.

The motion, by deputy leader of the opposition, Conservative Councillor Paul Startin, adds: “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact in our local communities, this impact is not only on health, it is also socially and economically damaging.

"The repercussions may be felt for a long time.

"The sheer nature of a public health pandemic means much of the recovery is beyond our control. However, we can have a positive influence over our town centres. They are the responsibility of this council.

"It is noted that the council is under a heavy financial burden, but that burden will be significantly worse if we fail to support the local shops, cafes and pubs across the district. It is our duty to help them to weather the storm and provide a supportive boost."

Councillor Phil Hewitt said: "We have three lovely market towns in Rugeley, Cannock and Hednesford and they're struggling.

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"Residents have raised concerns about the viability of our town centres and I share that concern.

"We should also listen to traders and they are generally concerned."

Councillor Robert Hughes said the council should be doing everything they can to encourage people back into the towns.

Evidence

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He added: "It now takes longer to do the things we take for granted.

"It would be unfortunate for residents to have to pay more for things that now take longer."

And Councillor Olivia Lyons told the meeting that at the beginning of lockdown the income for car parks was at 10 per cent of the usual amount, but now it was at about 50 per cent.

But Councillor Paul Witton said the council "has lost enough money during the pandemic" and said there was "no evidence that parking would increase footfall".

And leader of the council Councillor George Adamson said the potential cost would be £65,000 per month for tax payers and they would still have to pay £9,000 a month for parking charge enforcement.

Councillors voted and it was a tie, but the chairman, Councillor Alan Dudson, voted against.

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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