“They are hurting our business for just a few cents” – this is how businessman Michael Ferrada describes the yearly wrangle that has reignited business fury in Quinta do Lago’s Bougainvilla Plaza and Quinta Shopping outlets.
At the centre of the quarrel is the paid-parking scheme over the summer months imposed by Loulé council on the “empty car park” which shopkeepers claim scares most business away.
Tired of raising their voices against the charges every year, shopkeepers met with deputy mayor Hugo Nunes and Paulo Bernardo, CEO of municipal company Loulé Global, on Tuesday to discuss a possible solution.
A petition was delivered but immediately rejected.
“We were told that they are testing the paid-parking scheme this month because of the new Pingo Doce that opened at Bougainvilla Plaza. They say that the system is working well, which is strange to us because we only see an empty car park,” said Ferrada, who runs his own real estate office at the centre.
As he explained, just 15 minutes at the car park can cost drivers €0.25. While it is a “modest amount”, it is one that Ferrada believes leads potential clients to go elsewhere.
“If you just want to buy a paper and have a cup of coffee, why would you pay to park when you can go somewhere else,” he asked.
The charges are expected to be removed at the end of the month, but shopkeepers are already worried about their inevitable return in June next year.
Ferrada guarantees that businesses will “keep fighting”.
“During such hard times of crisis, they can’t keep penalising foreign investment and tourism,” he told us.