Campaigners rally behind bid to get more free parking in Cosham

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A CAMPAIGN is under way to reinstate free parking near shops in Cosham High Street.

Politicians and businesses have got together to raise awareness of the need for change.

While 28 free one-hour parking spaces have been introduced in the northern part of the road, motorists have to pay £1.10 for the first hour in the southern part.

It was previously free to park there for a short time while major work was being done on Northern Road Bridge – due for completion in the spring – and during the construction of Cosham’s one-way system.

Visitors previously had the option of parking for half an hour for 60p, but that was scrapped in July 2012. The new charges are in line with other districts in Portsmouth.

Jamie Brennan, of Cosham Independent Barbers, said it feels like the council is splitting the High Street in half.

‘The council seems to think Cosham High Street stops at Barclays Bank,’ he said. ‘But where we are, it’s still part of the High Street. It’s like they are splitting it in half.’

Hannah Hockaday, the Conservative group’s councillor candidate for Cosham, has met some of the traders who feel affected.

She said: ‘Cosham has empty units and needs supporting.

‘The council has a commitment to regenerate this area, which I strongly support, but this is going against that strategy. It makes no sense which is why I’m working with the local business community to get this decision changed.’

Tony Broome, owner of Shoefix, in High Street, said while there are parking charges in most places, he thinks the fee is a bit steep for those wanting to stop by briefly.

‘If there was free parking it wouldn’t harm us,’ he said.

‘But you have to pay to park everywhere these days.

‘However, I do think the price could be lower. It’s a lot for people who want to do a bit of shopping. I haven’t seen any difference in the number of visitors since the charges came back. People are still coming here and parking, I just don’t think people like to pay.’

A council spokesman said the question of whether free parking could come back was ‘hypothetical’ and couldn’t be answered.