The future of Milton Keynes market is in jeopardy with traders admitting losing up to HALF their customers since parking charges were hiked.
Last year, spaces next to CMK’s food centre rose from 50p to £2 an hour, resulting in a “devastating” drop in market footfall.
Tonight traders threatened to boycott the market altogether as councillors faced a deputation at the civic offices.
“It is the final nail in the coffin for us,” said one market trader.
“We all believe there is now no future for MK’s market.
“What the council has done to us is disgusting. They are doing everything they can to drive us out of business.”
Linda Inoki, founder of pressure group Xplain, said: “People who shop in the market by and large want to save their pennies. It is outrageous to expect them to afford £2 an hour.”
The latest parking fiasco comes hand in hand with a 25 per cent increase in employee permits, which market traders use to park.
The red and black ‘ladybird’ spaces – of which there are 177 opposite the market – were introduced to give workers more spaces.
Three years ago clothing giant Primark submitted a planning application to move on to the market site.
But the proposal was pulled at the 11th hour after market traders raised a 21,000 signature petition opposing the plans.
Today, Councillor Alex Walker called on the Labour administration to abolish the increased charges to show support to traders - and help save the market from extinction.
The Conservative spokesman for transport said: “This has made the council out to be anti-business and anti-drivers.
“If the decision is not reviewed immediately, and footfall continues to drop, then there is a real risk we could see traders struggle to remain open.”
The council, which raked in £9million from parking charges last year, is expected to reconsider the decision following last night’s protest.
Council leader Pete Marland told the Citizen: “We said it was a trial scheme, so we are happy to look into it.”