Stroud traders - We want free parking, not loyalty card
FURIOUS shopkeepers are threatening to boycott the council's planned new Stroud district loyalty card.
More than 30 privately-run businesses in Stroud town centre have signed a petition demanding free parking in council-run car parks after 3pm to boost trade, instead of the card.
The traders' spokeswoman Fiona Mills-Carlyon said the problem with the idea was that businesses couldn't afford to offer extra discounts to cardholders.
"The financial implications of this proposal are completely untenable," said Mrs Mills-Carlyon, who runs Moonflower ladies' clothing store.
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"Most businesses offer their own discounts, promotions and loyalty schemes so could not afford to offer an additional discount," she said.
Stroud District Council announced last month that it would launch the district-wide card next month, to encourage local trading.
The project would offer all 112,000 district residents discounts and would be free to join and use, it said.
Restaurants, tradespeople and hotels as well as shops could all join the scheme run by My Loyalty Card Ltd, said the council.
But Mrs Mills-Carlyon said the 31 businesses which signed the petition felt it was untrue there was no cost to participate.
"I did a very rough sum and after offering a percentage discount the bottom line was that it was unaffordable," she said.
The independent traders therefore believed the alternative of "free after three" on council car parks would equally well increase footfall, Mrs Mills-Carlyon said.
Roger Sanders (L Uplands), the Stroud District Council executive member for regeneration said he was disappointed by the traders' reaction.
"We want to do something about car parking," Mr Sanders said.
"It will be on the agenda in January. But car parking is a different pot of council money."
Mr Sanders said: "We consulted with the Concordat and the Chamber of Trade three months or so ago.
"Not one person has complained to me. I am always in Stroud. I shop in Stroud myself and not one person has approached me," he said. "We want to sit down and talk with them. The first time it was brought to my attention was at a meeting on Wednesday night," Mr Sanders said on Friday.