A TETBURY shopkeeper has hit out at Cotswold District Council over parking charges in the town.

George Bristow, owner of Artique believes that the council is making a huge profit from parking charges and driving people away from the town.

He said: “The whole town decline is in I would say terminal decline mainly down to really bad local authority decisions.

“They have been totally belligerent about the way they enforce the car parking. Many people have said to me as much as they love this town they are never coming back.

He explained that the council has not acted upon numerous objections from residents over the parking charges.

“They do not seem to have enough nous to think out what we are objecting. They are running it as a business,” he said “They need to review what their relationship with the people is.”

Mr Bristow added that he thinks that the only way to encourage people back into shopping in the town is to reduce car parking fees.

In response to Mr Bristow’s criticisms, Chris Hancock, cabinet member for enterprise and partnerships at the district council, said that on-street parking is dealt with entirely by Gloucestershire County Council and that the district council receives no income from it.

He said: “Like all Gloucestershire councils, we provide off-street public parking in our car parks as a discretionary chargeable service. Any surplus revenue generated is used to provide essential public services including, but not limited to, public toilet provision, environmental protection, and tackling environmental crime such as graffiti, clearance of litter and land drainage. The council spends this surplus every year as a contribution to maintaining these services.

“For the record, parking charges in the Cotswolds have been frozen until at least 2016 and some tariffs have actually been reduced. Tetbury benefits from some of the cheapest parking in the whole of the district at just 70p for an hour, and statistics to the end of July show that ticket sales in the town car parks are up 6% on last year, suggesting that the town is attracting greater visitor numbers, a trend reflected across the district.

“The trend in Tetbury is also borne out by the number of people using the Visitor Information Centre, almost 2337 people used the facility in July 2014, an increase of 200 when compared with July 2013.”