THOUSANDS of people have signed a petition against the possible introduction of car parking charges in two shopping areas.
Fareham Borough Council is considering charging for parking at Stubbington and Portchester.
But almost 7,000 people have now signed a petition against the idea.
Local businesses fear that it could have a negative impact and could put people off.
Ward councillor for Stubbington, Arthur Mandry, said: ‘I wouldn’t support car parking charges in Stubbington or on the beaches.
‘In Stubbington there is no parking for staff and owners of the shops.
‘Because people are concerned about paying, people will go somewhere where they don’t have to pay.
‘I know some of the businesses in places like Stubbington are extremely fragile with their finances.’
Simon Wimble, owner of Stubbington fish and chips, added: ‘We have got a thriving little village and I don’t know why they can’t just leave it alone.
‘There isn’t one trader in the village who thinks it’s a good idea. Some feel it would affect their trade very badly.’
Fareham council said no decision has yet been made and that the issue is out for consultation.
But leaders have stressed that the more revenue the authority raises keeps council tax low.
Richard Ryan, chairman of the Portchester Labour group, said: ‘I understand that the council are doing it so they don’t have to put the council tax up.
‘But there must be a limit to how much we put the car parking up until we start to see an effect on shopping centres in the area.
‘My concern is that where Portchester is really thriving at the moment, I think that’s a lot to do with the car parking.
‘All you have to do is look at Cosham and the effect parking charges and clamping had there.’
But Conservative councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘I’m glad that people have responded to the consultation.
‘We only charge in Fareham town centre and even then we don’t charge in the evenings.
‘The more we raise in fees and charges the less we have to raise in council tax.
‘We can’t rule it in and we can’t rule it out.
‘But it’s important that the council looks at its assets and how it can best be used for the benefits of residents.’