THE future of a parade of shops hangs in the balance due to "pointless" parking rules, it is claimed.

Shop City Pets in Sewardstone Road, Chingford, has already been forced to close, with the owners blaming restrictions for pushing it over the edge in tough economic times.

Now other businesses in the eight-shop parade say a parking ban between 8am and 11am must be lifted to help boost trade or they may suffer the same fate.

The scheme was introduced to deter commuters from using the street, even though it is more than a mile from Chingford station.

Maria Block has co-owned City Pets with her husband Paul for five years and said a recent clampdown on illegal parking has spelt the end of the business.

The 52-year-old said: "It's very sad. We've been here for a while now and though business was getting slow but this was the last straw for the shop.

"It's so frustrating, they come in for a little bit of fish food and come out to a £55 ticket.

"We should have something like the 15-minute free parking they have in Station Road.

"Why not help us out in the recession by encouraging people to shop here?"

Helen Liassi, manager of neighbouring Greggs, fears her shop could be downgraded so it no longer bakes food on the premises because of low takings.

The 40-year-old said: "It will put me out a job.

"It would be more helpful for the council abolish the restrictions - they are causing me to lose all my morning trade and they're pointless because there's no commuter problem."

Ali Akkaya, manager of The Empire Fish Bar, said he was forced to close a morning cafe opened just two years ago because of the parking ban.

The 32-year-old, whose family founded the shop 30 years ago, added: "It's a nightmare for us in this economic climate.

"Free parking would make more sense because clearly businesses are suffering without it."

And people living nearby are backing the shops.

Norman Palmer, 80, of Mount Echo Avenue, said: "This is the reason high streets are going down the drain. They rely on the road for business and the restriction is throttling them. It's sad to see this."

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