AFTER  we posted this story last week about the council's 'consultation' over increasing central Manchester on-street parking charges (with minor reductions in peripheral areas) Confidential talked to six businesses.

It’s completely killed off our late night and to some extent Sundays. I’d say on a Sunday our footfall has dropped by 30-40%. That’s a lot. 

These were chosen entirely at random.

They were not businesses that had featured previously on Confidential offering negative opinions, but they were consistent.

They all agreed to disagree with council policy on early evening and Sunday on-street parking. 

Dean Alexander, Manager, Vivienne Westwood, 47 Spring Gardens: 

These kind of changes are definitely going to force people out of town, I’m 100% certain. It costs enough as it is, if it’s going to cost £6 to come in and shop for a couple of hours people won’t bother, they’ll go somewhere else, especially on a Saturday and Sunday. That’s why people do end up going to places like the Trafford Centre where parking is free. A lot of people are struggling anyway in the current climate and it’s just not going to help at all. 

Robert Harrison, Manager, High and Mighty, 55 King Street: 

It’s too expensive as it is, they need to cut it. We have so many people complain about the parking here. People have stopped coming in to the city centre, they’re going over to our Liverpool shop instead, simply because they can park there for free. 

We used to open up on a late night Thursday because people could park for free after six and come have a good look round without rushing. But it’s a waste of time now because no one comes in after half-past-four. 

We get people here who want to spend more time in the shop but can’t because of the parking. The parking attendants around here are horrendous, they won’t even give you a couple of minutes. I parked out here a couple of weeks ago because of an alarm call-out and even though they knew I was in the store, they still towed the car. Without coming in and checking, even though the police were here.  

It’s killing the city centre, they should want to get people in. We’ve got shops all over the country and outside of London this is the most expensive place to park. 

It’s completely killed off our late night and to some extent Sundays. I’d say on a Sunday our footfall has dropped by 30-40%. That’s a lot. 

The Arndale have realised that they need to drop parking charges to get people in there, why haven’t the Council realised this for us on King Street and around here? They’re totally out of touch. The problem is that they don’t speak to the retailers. They have virtually no contact with us. 

Our friends from Rosso, over the road, say Saturday night trade has dropped because of the parking. I went for a meal there last week and sat in my car for 15 minutes until 8pm so that I didn’t have to pay for parking, it’s just so expensive. 

Damien McClung, Magma Books, 22 Oldham Street NQ: 

We don’t get enough help as retailers around here anyway. So making people pay more to park to shop, especially on a Sunday when it used to be free is going to do us no favours at all. 

I don’t think that public transport links are as good as the council claims they are, most people still drive in to town so these changes certainly don’t help us. 

Female Manager, Bar, Northern Quarter: 

I don’t want to be named on this because to be honest the council and the licensing authority can make our life hell over various things but without a doubt the charges have affected our business. The council are shooting themselves in the foot really because it’s driving people out of town to the Trafford Centre. 

It’s really effecting live acts we get in as well, we have our sound checks at 5pm but the free parking doesn’t start until 8pm, so they’re throwing their stuff out of the van and then having to drive around for a few hours. They don’t get to properly practice. It’s a ridiculous situation.

Paul Rogers, Manager, Note, 34 Tib Street NQ: 

The council should be doing everything they can to help out small independent businesses. At the Trafford Centre which is mostly large chain stores, you can park there for free. Why should they get the help? 

I don’t just think people will be driven out of town, I think shoppers will also just start to spend more money online. Rather than come in to town and have to pay for parking. 

I really hope it’s not going to stop shoppers too much but it’s definitely not going to help us. A few of our customers now just park in the loading bays and then end up with a ticket. They’re only in town for 5 minutes, they know what they want but end up with a ticket. So they’re going to stop coming aren’t they? 

I went to Leeds a couple of weeks ago and managed to park in the city centre all day, for free. I think Leeds is doing a lot more for independent shops, Manchester’s independent shops suffer badly because of things like this. 

To some extent I think it’s the council’s retribution for us not voting for their congestion charge thing a couple of years back, which would have killed the city centre. They said that if we voted no they’d have to hike up parking charges and that’s what they’re doing. 

Natalie Brockhurst, Manager, The White Company, 19 King Street: 

It’s not so much the amount of shoppers that are coming in because we are quite a busy shop usually. It’s more the amount of time those people are spending in here. Shoppers are rushing in and out to quickly pick something up or return something. They’re nipping in to the city centre for half an hour, not spending a few hours shopping anymore. Increasing the price of parking is only going to make this worse.