A FAMILY-run sweet shop in Cirencester is closing due to fears over increased parking fees.

The owners of Bishop's Candy in Bishops Walk shopping arcade say they have seen a rapid decrease in footfall since the closure of the Tesco superstore in nearby Farrell Close and fear the situation will worsen once parking costs rise in April.

Meanwhile, a petition against Cotswold District Council's parking hike - which it says are needed to balance the books - has now been signed by more than 1,200 people.

Bishop's Candy, which opened around a year-and-a-half-ago, is due to close this Saturday after an 'everything must go' sale is held at the shop between 12pm and 2pm.

They will be selling a bountiful selection of American candy, chocolate and savoury snacks as well as sought-after Prime drinks and some remaining equipment at discounted prices.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Bishop's Candy Bishop's Candy (Image: Camilla Foster)

Husband and wife team Rikki and Matt Jenkins have put a notice on the store which states: "We have had to take the difficult decision to close Bishop's Candy.

"With the closure of the larger Tesco in Farrell Close in the town, we have seen a significant decline of footfall and it is no longer a viable business.

"Unfortunately with the proposed increase of car park rates, this is unlikely to improve.

"I would like to thank all of our customers for their support and for making us feel welcome."

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Bishop's Candy sign Bishop's Candy sign (Image: Camilla Foster)

They published a similar announcement on social media which also added that CDC's decision to remove cash payments at the Brewery car park has also had a negative impact on trade.

A spokesperson for Cirencester Chamber of Commerce said: “We’re very sorry to hear of the closure of Bishop’s Candy.

"It's especially hard when it’s a local independent business, affecting the livelihood of a family.

"This makes it more important for the town to shop local where possible, not just the retailers on the high street but to use any local business where possible.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Remaining selection of American candy at Bishop's Candy Remaining selection of American candy at Bishop's Candy (Image: Camilla Foster)

Dozens of shocked customers expressed their sadness on social media with one saying 'Cirencester will literally be a ghost town soon,' and another adding 'CDC has a lot to answer for, every time they hike parking charges less people will visit the town'.

Other comments echoed this sentiment, including one resident who said: 'I am astonished that the council are increasing parking charges. There’s not a great deal in Cirencester as it is and this will push more people out of town,' plus another who said 'Council take note, this won't be the only business closing'.

The parking rise means for example that at the Brewery, Forum, Abbey, Old Station, Waterloo and Sheep Street car parks, the current tariffs of £1.70 for one hour and £3 for two hours parking are due to increase to £2 and £3.50 respectively.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Brewery Car Park sign Brewery Car Park sign (Image: Camilla Foster)

Parking permits costs will also rise.

Commenting on the shop closure, Tony Dale, CDC cabinet member for the economy and council transformation, said: “We are extremely proud of our thriving town centres throughout the Cotswold district and make a conscious effort to support businesses where we can.

“We carry out regular vacant unit checks and the vacancy level in Cirencester is around six per cent compared with a national average of 14 per cent.

"This is something we are really proud of and is a great example of how successful Cirencester town centre is.

“Furthermore, the data from our monitoring platform shows us that footfall in Cirencester town centre has returned to pre-pandemic levels which is another great example of how well the town centre is doing.

“Going cashless in our car parks was a decision we made at the end of 2022 to save money for the taxpayer and prevent theft.

"While it hasn’t been very long since we made the change, our data isn’t showing any meaningful alteration in visitor numbers to Brewery car park since it went cashless.

"We will be monitoring this data over the next year. It also shows that from the year 21/22 to 22/23 there was a 24.01 per cent increase in parking transactions.”

The parking tariff increases, due to come into effect on April 1, are part of CDC's new budget which was approved last month.

A petition against the move was started by Cirencester resident Maisie England and has gained 1,212 signatures.