SHOPPERS are being driven away by a lack of parking spaces, claim fed-up business owners.
Butcher Colin Mackintosh says that almost every day he watches streets near his shop in Chester Road, Sunderland, fill up with cars from 7am until after his store has closed.
He believes many are drivers avoiding parking charges at nearby Sunderland Royal Hospital and a new traffic permit scheme for neighbours.
Colin, who has been in Chester Road for 21 years, said: “In the last three months it has got a lot worse. People are parking there at 7am in the morning until 5pm.
“It’s got so my customers can’t get parked and they complain when they come in.
“I have definitely noticed a drop in trade, about 10 per cent, which is bad in this economic climate, which is probably the worst in the world.”
The 49-year-old, from Herrington, has approached Sunderland City Council about the issue.
Along with other traders along the busy road, he would like to see short-stay parking bays installed at the end of Wolseley Terrace, Burnaby Street and Eldon Street.
But after a site visit, council officials said the measures were not needed, though they would keep the situation under review.
“We’ve got nearly 100 per cent shop occupancy in Chester Road,” said Colin.
“But if the parking problem continues then people will start to move.
“We are also lucky to have two banks in the street. We need to keep them there.
“When I’m in the shop I see people driving round, looking for a space, then they don’t come back again.
“The council have said they will keep reviewing it, but I don’t want them to just keep reviewing when all the shops are gone and all the customers are gone.”
Jimmy Potts, 59, from Penshaw, has sold fruit and vegetables in Chester Road for 28 years.
He said: “We see the customers driving round and round. With the permits, all the hospital staff are moving down.
“All we want is for people to be able to come down here and do a bit of shopping.
“In the last few months it’s got a lot worse.”
Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The residents’ parking scheme around the hospital continues to operate well and ongoing monitoring of parking in the surrounding areas and streets continues to be carried out.
“A recent survey indicated that on-street parking has decreased not only in the streets affected by the scheme but also in some of the adjacent streets which has provided additional kerb space for parking.
“Due to its success we are considering extending the scheme to cover other areas in the immediate area surrounding the hospital, and the provision of limited waiting bays at strategic locations may be considered at that time.”