Moreton's parking problems drive away shoppers, says councillor
A "WAKE-UP CALL" has been given to Moreton-in-Marsh to sort out its parking problems after an edge-of-town business got the go-ahead to expand.
The claim came from district councillor Robert Dutton, who spoke out after Fosseway Garden Centre gained controversial approval to extend its café from Cotswold District Council.
It was given the green light despite opposition from people who feared it would take business out of the town centre.
Councillor Duton said Fosseway's success highlights that shoppers are being driven away from the High Street as it is clogged with rail commuters and traders' cars as they dodge car park charges. He has called for an urgent look into the parking situation.
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Fosseway Garden Centre, on the A429's southern gateway to the town, has some 140 parking spaces and has diversified from selling plants to everything from gifts to clothes. It can now enlarge the current cafe's kitchen, servery and seating area from 200 sq m to a new 674 sq m.
"This should be taken as a wake-up call to the authorities that we have to sort out parking and congestion problems in Moreton," said councillor Dutton.
"We felt this expansion posed a threat as we're concerned about the town centre's sustainability – it's so clogged up with people who park all week who use the train station, quite a few of the shopkeepers and local teachers. If people can zoom half-a-mile up the road to Fosseway where they can park and there are free toilets, it will take trade away. I'm supportive of businesses in Moreton, particularly when they provide employment, but don't want to support something that damages the town."
Tim Godwin, who has built up the garden centre over 20 years, said: "It's my town centre too and it's not my intention or ego trip to rip the guts out of Moreton. Garden centres have evolved out of all recognition as it's the accepted norm customers want to have coffee, lunch and buy other goods such as cards, chocolates and oak furniture. We have to compete and it's also fortunate we've got the land and had the planning permission for on-site parking.
"But it's important for me, our family and our business to see Moreton as a vibrant town and the parking situation needs a good discussion."
Town and district councillor Rod Hooper said the town council had launched a two-hour waiting limit on its High Street parking space but it was constantly flouted as it could not be enforced on private land. He also stressed he did not want residents to pay on their own land. And he said the county council was currently studying its Cotswolds parking provision.