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Nancy's Vintage Tea shop in Newmarket's Old Station Road takes a stand against parking charge increases in show of solidarity with customers

Customers at a Newmarket tea shop are getting money knocked off their bills as a gesture by the owner against an increase in car parking charges.

Simon Johnson, who owns Nancy’s Vintage Tea Shop in Old Station Road, was furious when West Suffolk Council put up the cost of parking in Newmarket a month before the Covid restrictions were finally lifted.

“At a time when businesses like mine were trying to build up trade and get people back into the town centre it was insensitive and thoughtless of the council to bring in the increases,” said Simon.

Simon Johnson outside Nancy's Teashop
Simon Johnson outside Nancy's Teashop

“I know they will say it is cheap here compared to Bury St Edmunds or Cambridge, but we aren’t Bury St Edmunds or Cambridge and we can’t be compared to them.

“This was a 60 per cent increase on the charge for one hour and a 50 per cent rise for two hours which is a big increase,” said Simon.

As a gesture, he decided he would refund customers £1 on purchases of £10 or more on production of a photo of their parking ticket.

“It’s not really the money, it’s just making a point and customers understand that and support it. Some won’t actually take the refund but say they appreciate then gesture,” said Simon.

When the proposed increase from 60p to £1 for an hour’s parking and from £1 to £1.50 for two hours were announced for the town centre short-stay car parks together with an extension of chargeable times, Newmarket Bid
manager Paul Brown led opposition saying he was ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the decision.

And Town Councillor Andy Appleby tried to get a High Court review of parking charges in Newmarket – a move which was thrown out by the court in July 2000.

Just as the new charges were set to come in, the pandemic struck and all charges were suspended by West Suffolk Council in March 2020. They were reinstated, without the increase, in April this year with the higher prices introduced on July 5.

The move was defended by council leader John Griffiths who claimed that the charges helped businesses by managing and meeting parking demand and facilitating the turnover of spaces.

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