Sheffield Council accused of ‘ineptitude’ over parking fees

SMALL-business leaders launched a stinging attack on council bosses over an increase in city centre parking charges and an ongoing row about a now-defunct airport.

The Federation of Small Businesses has mounted a long-running campaign for the reopening of Sheffield Airport and presented a petition to the city council on Wednesday asking for support.

But councillors were unwilling to give their backing, and delivered a second slap in the face as they voted through a 17 per cent increase in parking fees, plus new Sunday and evening charges.

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Yesterday, Gordon Millward, the regional chairman of the FSB, accused councillors of being “somnolent” over the “competitive disadvantage” Sheffield suffered after its airport closed.

On parking charges, he added: “Barring the strident efforts of a few dazzling private traders, the city centre is already deprived of life and vitality, thanks to council indolence and ineptitude.

“Is it so beyond the wit of council planners to understand that a 17 per cent increase in parking charges will merely serve to force more businesses into closure, reducing visitors even further and resulting in still greater falls in parking revenue?”

The council said it needed to raise more money from car parking to offset cuts it must make elsewhere after the Government demanded it save £50m this financial year.