A SHOPKEEPER who was leading a petition for cheaper town centre parking has been forced to close down by a steady decline in customers which he says is due to the parking problems.

Shopkeepers have been warning the council for months that town centre parking problems are driving customers away and one butcher in Octagon Parade has now closed down, saying he can no longer compete.

Lee Pickwood, 31, of LSR Quality Meats, closed his shop last week and says he has no plans to re-open.

Mr Pickwood only opened the store in November.

He said: "I shut down because nobody is coming into the town centre anymore. I am concentrating on my mobile catering business now.

"What's the point in staying open if no-one is coming into High Wycombe to shop."

Mr Pickwood said it is too expensive to park in High Wycombe and too difficult to find a space after building work for Eden closed Bridge Street car park at the end of last year.

He is also annoyed with the parking attendants who gave him five tickets in one day for unloading meat behind his shop in December, which he claimed was unreasonable and "targetting small businesses".

Mr Pickwood told Midweek's sister paper the Bucks Free Press last month that it was essential for him to stay afloat because his wife was expecting another baby soon and would have to support a young family.

Anne-Marie Goodbody, parking services manager for Bucking-hamshire County Council, said: "We are not in the business of making traders' lives difficult.

"But we need to hear from people who have special parking requirements so that we can try and help them.

"The butchers was not in a very visible location, it was tucked away behind the arches and I don't really think parking is the real reason it shut down."

She added: "There is a number of parking spaces available even with the works taking place for Eden, so the trader's argument is not really a valid argument."