Traders’ anger as free Saturday parking in Archway is axed

FREE Saturday parking in Archway is set to be abolished - causing anger among traders already reeling from a 50 per cent increase in metre charges throughout the week.

The Gazette can reveal that the Junction Road scheme, which has been running for the past year to give businesses a boost during the recession, will be axed after Christmas .

Islington Council says it is unfair and its new borough wide residents permits will benefit all businesses equally – but Archway traders feel badly let down, particularly as the parking charges have just risen from �2.40 to �3.60 an hour.

Hak Huseyin, who runs Absolute Print, in Junction Road, and is chairman of the Archway Town Centre Management Group, said: “We are not happy because they are giving with one hand and taking with the other.

“It’s a good idea to let residents use their permits in different parts of the borough because giving people greater freedom to move around during the day will be good for our businesses. But we have a few specialist shops here which have customers from outside the borough and this will be a nightmare for them on Saturdays. The free parking scheme has had a really positive impact for us over the last year, but the end of that combined with the increase in parking charges means overall the situation will be worse.”

Chris Stasi, joint owner of Stasi Salons, added: “The parking prices are a joke. Since they went up a couple of weeks ago my customers have been moaning constantly. It’s not like this is the West End. My customers are constantly running out in the middle of haircuts to put more money in the meters. It’s ridiculous.”

Councillor Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, said: “Labour councillors say they want to support businesses while whacking up permit costs and scrapping free Saturday parking for their customers,” said Councillor Stacy.

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“Labour councillors know this triple whammy will be hugely unpopular and that it will affect lower-income families disproportionately. They even say so in the report they agreed.”

Councillor Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “We cannot have a system where people in Archway get free parking and people in the rest of the borough don’t. We are also spending �2million fixing up Archway over the next 12 moths so the area is getting quite a good deal.

“Resident parking permits will go up by �20 on average and business parking permits by �40, but we have just lost �100million thanks to the coalition government and we can no longer subsidise parking at the expense of essential services such as teachers.”