Plans for parking charges in a Solihull high street could ruin struggling businesses and choke off a town centre, an MP has claimed in the Commons.
In a debate on British high streets, MP for Solihull, Lorely Burt, (Lib Dem) said charging for car parking in and around Stratford Road, Shirley, would “put more pressure on shops already struggling to make ends meet”.
The council proposes to introduce a “free and display” scheme in car parks and service roads for a year, while consultation is carried out.
But in the second year a charge of 20p per hour will be applied after the first 30 minutes, rising to 40p the following year.
Ms Burt said: “Local shopkeepers rely on the footfall that the free parking brings in order to survive.
“At a time of economic difficulty, this is the last thing that a struggling town centre needs. These charges will choke off Shirley town centre.
“The overflow created as people seek to avoid the charges will have a huge effect on the local residents.
“It will mean that the hard-working shopkeepers will be starved of business because people will be unwilling to pay the charges, especially when there is free parking down the road at an out-of-centre Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
“We are about to find out whether we are right to believe that an Asda superstore will suck the lifeblood out of the small independent shops on the high street, or whether the developers are right in saying that it will attract more people who will magically spill out on to the high street and create more footfall.”
Construction is due to start on the Parkgate mixed-use regeneration scheme, off Shirley High Street, in May this year.
The £85 million development will have an Asda supermarket at its heart and include other retail units, houses, apartments and retirement flats.
Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways at Solihull Council, said: “The proposals are officer suggestions and have got to be confirmed by members in the decision making process.
“Our main reason for looking to introduce a charge is to manage the parking and traffic. We have a problem with all-day parkers. Commuters are known to park and get the bus into the city centre.