Herefordshire Council is working against businesses and the local community by reintroducing parking charges says local business owner.

Weā€™ve received a large amount of feedback over the past few days following the announcement from Herefordshire Council that parking charges would be reintroduced from Monday.

We caught up with local business owner Luke Conod to gauge his thoughts on the decision.

YH: Can you give us a brief insight into how COVID-19 has affected your business?

Luke Conod: I have worked in retail since I was 14, which is 33 years this year and I have never known times like these before. In the past 12 weeks our sales from our FIT store and School Uniform Shop in #Hereford and our concession at Labels in Ross-on-Wye have been exactly Ā£0.

We were one of the first bricks and clicks clothing retailers in the UK as we started to trade online in 1996 and we have never been more grateful and fortunate to have our and websites as these have sustained our business during the lockdown.

The lockdown has moved online retail forward 10 years in 12 weeks and will have changed the retail landscape for ever.

YH: Are you excited about reopening on Monday?

Luke Conod: Itā€™s a mixture of excitement and nerves itā€™s like opening two new stores in one day.

We have been preparing for our reopening since we closed our doors in March and I am confident that we have everything in place to ensure that we can offer a safe and comfortable shopping experience to all our customers and our colleagues!

YH: What are your thoughts on Herefordshire Councilā€™s decision to reintroduce parking charges in Hereford from Monday?

Luke Conod: I think the CEO and Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport from Hereforshire Council are working against businesses and members of the communities they serve with the re-introduction of car parking charges on Monday 15th June across Herefordshire.

I understand from the BBC that their reasoning for this is to reduce traffic on the roads yet on Friday they introduced free parking for the first 30 minutes which will increase traffic movements and is a poorly thought out knee jerk reaction to lobbying from our communities.

I understand from a very reliable and senior source in Herefordshire Council
that the real reason is revenue generation.

May I remind them that they are being paid by the communities and businesses they serve, and the people they serve do not agree with what they are doing!

Just look at the over 50 official complaints that they have received over the past
few days, that is without the strength of feeling expressed against their decision on Your Hereforshire and other social media groups and platforms.

Local Government should be of the people, by the people, for the people!

Local Governments should be afraid of the people, not the people afraid of their governments. We do not live in North Korea!

May I urge them that if they are going to do this damn silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.

They have the chance today to rescind their decision.

I am meeting with John Harrington cabinet member for Infrastructure and Transport on Monday to offer my help and the help of other stakeholders in the city in order to put a package together that will encourage shoppers and visitors to Hereford and the market towns.

I believe and hope they will have entered public service to serve their communities. If that is now not the reason they are in their roles, I really think Itā€™s time they considered their positions.