Small businesses in Manchester are being ‘hindered’ by a ban on cars using loading bays for deliveries, the founder of an independent brewery has said.
Rik Garner, who set up the First Chop brewery a decade ago, received a £70 fine for parking his Mercedes Estate S124 in a Northern Quarter loading bay.
He donated free beers for the launch of a new local magazine, ‘The Rodeo’, at the UNITOM book shop and came back later to collect unused boxes, leaving his car in a loading bay at Stephenson Square for around 15 minutes, he said.
However, when he returned to his car he found a parking ticket on the front.
He appealed, but was told by Manchester city council that only goods vehicles – like vans – can use parking bays, so he paid the fine at a reduced rate of £35.
But the founder of the Salford-based brewery which sold more than a million beers last year, claims that this ‘pedantic’ policy is bad for small businesses.
Having built his business ‘from nothing’, Bury-born Rik says the brewery’s success simply would not have been possible if he was forced to buy a van.
The micro brewery, which used a van for four years, still does around eight deliveries every week – mainly in the city centre – using the 1970s estate car.
The 50 year-old says many small businesses in the city are in a similar position.
He said: “I think it’s a silly rule.
“It doesn’t give a fair playing field to everybody.
“It’s hindering businesses from growing.
“Even an established business like mine – and it’s the same for small places.”
Rik says this was the first time he received a fine for parking in a loading bay.
The only alternative for making deliveries in the city centre would be to pay for parking, potentially many metres away, costing him time and money, he says.
And because of his bad back, parking closeby is particularly important for Rik.
What does the council say?
Manchester city council said the policy is not new and has not changed recently, confirming that loading bays have always been for goods vehicles only.
A council spokesperson said: “In line with longstanding council policy loading bays are only available for use by goods vehicles only, with clear signage in place to indicate this.
“Any other vehicle which is found to be using these bays will run the risk of being issued with a Penalty Charge Notice.”
However, Rik is calling on the council to reconsider its policy, claiming it will affect many small businesses across the city-region that do not own vans.
He is backed by his local Labour councillor Aftab Razaq who says he would support ‘any changes possible’ so small businesses can use loading bays.
He said: “We want to encourage more people to startup new businesses so that more people can be employed locally.”
Asked whether the town hall would review its policy, Labour councillor Tracey Rawlins, who is the executive member for environment and transport, said: “As a council we are always open to reviewing policies to better suit our residents, and ensuring ones already in effect are fit for purpose.”