A SNACK bar run by Mayor of Lancaster Paul Woodruff at a popular beauty spot has been forced to cut its opening hours after visitors were forced to pay for parking.
Coun Woodruff, who owns Woodies cafe at the Crook o’Lune picnic site near Caton, has seen trade drop dramatically since Lancashire County Council introduced a £1 parking charge at the site last spring.
Visitors must pay the fee for any duration, and Coun Woodruff said the knock-on effect meant it was no longer viable for his business to open seven days a week.
He is now opening the cafe from Friday to Sunday, although in July and August this will increase to Wednesday to Sunday. He will also open on bank holidays.
“It is simply not financially viable for us to open any other times, particularly in the winter,” he said.
“Our passing trade is doing just that now – passing by. The introduction of parking charges, without any tenant or public consultation, was a disaster for us and regular visitors who simply refuse to pay for half an hour’s stay – and I don’t blame them.”
Woodies initially closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but it quickly became clear that the cost of stock and electricity was outstripping income. “It just wasn’t worth being there,” Coun Woodruff said.
“We wanted to keep it open obviously so we were very reluctant to close.
“But a lot of our regular customers no longer came because they had to pay to park just to have a cup of tea. We still have a good following but people don’t want to have to pay just to stop for a few minutes.”
Coun Woodruff said he was disappointed by the lack of consultation before the fee was introduced.
“Consultation and the implementation of ‘the first hour free’ would have been the way forward for everyone,” he said.
“We have provided a full seven days a week service all year round for the past 15 years.
“The county council, in their wisdom, decided to put a stop to that.
“It’s frustrating for us because with a bit of consultatation we could have come up with a solution that suited everyone.
“But we will not give up. I am desperate to make sure my family business continues and we look forward to serving everyone for as long as we are able to.”