Cornwall’s ‘friendliest place to live’ like a ghost town as parking charges rise

Parking charges are “killing” a market town in Cornwall considered one of the country’s friendliest.

Callington has already seen its last bank close with a branch of Lloyds shutting its doors completely in July.

Small business owners have now raised the alarm after Cornwall Council scrapped free parking in the town centre for the first hour and upped tariffs at its car parks.

A sign in the window of gift shop Victoria Eyton, which is closing down, reads: “Having survived the impacts of Brexit, Covid, the cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine, it beggars belief that we are being shot down by Cornwall Council.”

Tricia Stephenson, who runs the business with her daughter Victoria, blamed the parking charges, telling Cornwall Live: “People were coming in and saying they weren’t going to visit Callington anymore once the parking prices went up.

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“I didn’t believe them, but it’s exactly what’s happened. Takings dropped by 25 to 30 percent in the first month. When the bank next door said it was shutting, that was it then.”

Dogsbodies pet shop, run by Andy and Vicki Brett, have also seen an impact.

Vicki said: “A lot of people who would pop in to us for 10 minutes don’t want to pay £1. It’s put people off coming in to do a quick shop.

“It’s 12 weeks since the parking changed and the effect is obvious. Trade has dropped off… It’s one thing after another. We’re just trying to survive.”

She added: “Everybody I’ve spoken to says the same thing – it’s killing Callington. We need all the support we can get in a market town like this.”

Chloe Harrison runs Chlo’s Beauty Corner with business partner Ella Brown, who said: “I used to pay £33 a month to park. Now it’s £57. I’m refusing to pay it. A lot of people are emailing the council in disgust.”

She added: “Footfall in Callington has dropped massively. A lot of people are concerned that it’s now £1 on top of the cost of their treatment. It costs £6.80 a day to park now which is a lot when there’s nothing here.”

Lost Surfers Cocktail Café owners Melvin and Sue Symmons have also noticed footfall dropping right off.

Melvin said: “There were three cafés here but we’re the only one left. We’re doing alright here, but it would be nice to do more.”

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Jenny Cawse runs craft and picture framing shop Framin’ Crafty, which she said is thriving, but added: “We are trying our hardest to keep Callington alive.

“I have people come in who say they didn’t know they could get so much in the town. As soon as people say Callington’s not worth it, word gets around … But it is worth it.”

Cllr Andrew Long has been working with traders and the town council in a desperate fight back after the decision by Cornwall Council to introduce new charges in Callington’s two main car parks.

He argued that even charging £1 for an hour’s parking will have a detrimental effect on the town. Cllr Long said: “Callington is a short stay place. We haven’t got a massive town centre, so you can easily get through what you need to do in an hour.”

Cllr Connor Donnithorne, who oversaw Cornwall Council’s tariff charges, said no decision he made has taken away the hour’s free parking in Callington.

He explained that retail giant B&M did not want to continue a previous deal with the Co-op when it took over the supermarket chain’s premises. That arrangement had seen the first hour’s free parking subsidised.

The councillor added: “I’ve been clear, if it means helping I would have been prepared for Cornwall Council to come to some kind of arrangement with B&M but B&M are not interested…

“Callington has seen the drop in usage because there was that particular arrangement in place. I am genuinely happy to do whatever I can to sort that out, but then we can’t subsidise one car park for a free hour because every other car park would rightly say, what about us?”

He said Cornwall Council also has a £5million shortfall in its parking budget.

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