Emsworth traders demand U-turn on parking hike

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PEOPLE in Emsworth are joining a huge campaign to get a council to lower parking charges.

On the back of the massive support of a petition on Hayling Island, businesses in Emsworth have started their own petition in a bid to get Havant Borough Council to rethink its parking policy.

More than 4,500 signatures were collected on Hayling in just four weeks.

And in Emsworth more than 500 signatures have been collected in one week.

Officials at Emsworth Business Association are hoping to achieve more than 1,500 signatures – the benchmark under the Localism Act which triggers a council debate on the issue.

Both petitions come in the wake of a hike in parking charges earlier this year.

Councillors voted to increase fees from 70p to £1 for an hour at council-run town centre car parks.

Businesses in Mengham say it is already crippling trade.

Giles Babb, landlord of The Blue Bell Inn, in South Street, said: ‘We are finding the same problems in Emsworth – parking charges are affecting trade.

‘Especially if you just want to pop and get a pint of milk or a newspaper, there’s no free parking.

‘What we want to see is the first 20 minutes free, so if that if you are just picking something up, you are not penalised for using local shops.

‘Otherwise I think most people will start going somewhere they can park for free like Havant, where there’s an abundance of free spaces.

‘If it’s going to cost you a pound to park, it’s cheaper to drive to Havant.

‘If you look at Petersfield and Wickham, the charges are considerably lower.’

Mr Babb said he would like to see a fairer system where coinage equals time spent – so for 10 minutes parking, you would pay 10p.

He added: ‘We have started the petition and hope to get 1,500 signatures.

‘Ninety per cent of the retailers have the petition now.’

Council leaders have stressed the increases are keeping council tax low. A pilot scheme offering 20 minutes of free parking is also on the cards for Mengham.

Cllr David Collins, who heads parking, has said the parking issue for Hayling will be ‘fully debated’ at a forthcoming council meeting on July 24. It comes after the petition was formally handed in to the council.