Petition prompts review of parking charges in debate

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PROTESTS over an increase in parking fees in Havant have prompted a council review.

Havant Borough Council last night pledged to look again at car parking costs across the whole of the borough.

It comes after one fed-up resident organised a petition which went on to gather more than 4,000 signatures objecting to recent increases.

The petition prompted a debate to be held at last night’s full council meeting.

Chris Woollacott, of St Catherine’s Road in Hayling Island, started the campaign after Mengham saw an increase in parking charges from 70p to £1 this year.

He said: ‘Traders are at the moment struggling to make ends meet and we have to remember shoppers have choices.

‘They don’t have to come to Mengham to shop, they could go to Havant or Fareham or Petersfield and find cheaper parking there.

‘I would urge councillors to reconsider the decision to increase the charges.’

The local authority was also considering introducing charges at Hayling Island Health Centre, in Elm Grove.

The council says there has been a problem with people abusing the car park to go shopping and not using the health centre.

At the council meeting last night, Councillor David Collins, who oversees parking, said he would ask officers to carry out a review of the borough’s parking arrangements.

He also said there was a way to make sure the health centre car park is not abused without having to resort to introducing charges, by bringing in a Traffic Regulation Order.

The review would be completed by the end of October in time for work on the council’s annual budget.

The petition sparked a lengthy debate at last night’s council meeting.

Cllr George Smith, the Tory councillor for the Bedhampton ward, said: ‘I don’t believe this is a bad tax. We need to find the money from somewhere.

‘I know the majority don’t want it, but we are not delegates. We are representatives and we do what we think is best for the people even if the majority of people don’t agree with it.’

But Tory councillor Michael Wilson, for Hayling West, called for the increase in charges to be reversed.

He said: ‘We are making life difficult when we should be doing all we can to encourage traders and businesses.’