And then the bad news

Southend Pier: expensive to park near

After the excitement of telling you about the good news of the revival of our local airport, I am afraid there are some amongst our local population who either resistant to change or just don’t understand the needs of local business.

I can of course understand the concerns of local residents that the airport might give rise to noisy aircraft overhead, but I think we can be confident that the larger planes will be relatively quiet (and I speak as a resident who lives under the “circuit” in the “downwind” area). It is likely and understandable that the retired population will wish for a peaceful time and I think they will continue to have it, with the advantage of getting to Malaga or Faro with their beach gear and golf clubs a whole lot more easily.

I do not like to carp about local authorities but Southend just about takes the biscuit in not helping its local shops and restaurants. Their parking tariffs brought in this year mean that in some car parks where one could have parked in the evenings and overnight for £1, one could now end up paying £10, a 900% increase. This is particularly unhelpful to the local caterers and will drive people away from entertainment in Southend. The daytime charges already encourage people to shop at out-of-town supermarkets and the big shopping centres at Lakeside and Bluewater so it is smaller businesses that suffer.

I am not writing this to beat local authorities over the head with a stick. It is just short-sighted thinking to try to stop a gap in their budget by increasing parking charges. Surely reducing them would encourage greater capacity and more revenue? This is the lesson we learn with all taxation (and parking charges are taxes); the lower the rate, the higher the take.

Southend Council is not directly responsible for the airport, which is actually in Rochford District. Give Rochford some credit. Rochford parking is cheaper but not cheap enough, but they seem to care more about local business and indeed encourage us to “shop local” with a positive campaign. Hooray for Rochford!

Local government needs to help small business, because small business gives back to the local community. We don’t expect business to be handed to us on a plate. There is no substitute for planning and getting our hands dirty. We just don’t need thoughtless outside interference, do we? Do you get similar problems where you live?


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