A senior East Cornwall councillor, together with local shop owners, has launched a desperate fight back against what he and the traders have described as ‘maybe the final nail in the coffin for a small market town.’

Cllr Andrew Long, who is the Mebyon Kernow member for Callington and St Dominic, has been working with traders and the town council to organise the fight back following Cornwall Council’s decision to introduce new car parking charges in Callington’s two main New Road car parks.  

“Cornwall Council had a ready-made deal with a major retailer to continue the town’s one hour free parking, which was vital to provide an incentive to visit the town centre but somehow they managed not to complete the deal and now we are having to bear first hour charges which are already destroying the vitality of the Town Centre” said Cllr Long.

“This, along with the introduction of Sunday charges, is a punitive attack on the vitality of the traders in the town and goes against every policy the Council alleges to support about protecting Town Centres.  It’s an awful decision that only attacks hard working local people” he added

Local traders have also been vocal in their opposition to the new charges.  

Vicki Brett who owns Dogsbodies Pet Shop opposite the main New Road South Car Park, said: “Our shop has served Callington and the surrounding areas for over 30 years, after a very tough time economically finding out the incompetence of Cornwall Council’s Parking department for not charging B&M the agreed subsidy for the last four and half years leaves me in utter disbelief. The new parking meters were installed half way through the so called ‘consultation’ and attempting to start car parking charges well before the final decision.”

Her views were echoed by Tricia Stephenson who runs Victoria Eyton store in Fore Street: “The decision to enforce the charge for one hour of parking, which has traditionally been subsidised, is the final nail in the coffin for many small businesses and a betrayal of the local people who use them.  This is purely local people and community being penalised and we will soon be past the point of no return.”

The campaign against the increases has been gaining momentum.  A petition calling for the return to pre March charges has reached the threshold to be debated at council again and Cllr Long and others are getting traders to put pressure on the portfolio holder for Parking Cllr Connor Donnithorne to change his mind on these increases.

Cornwall Council have been approached for comment.