TRADERS are demanding a council ditches plans to increase parking charges over fears it could kill off independent shops.
Emsworth Business Association has lodged a formal objection to plans by Havant Borough Council to raise charges in the town’s main car park at South Street.
It comes as the council has proposed to have higher charges in Emsworth – as well as at Wellington Way in Waterlooville – than the rest of the borough.
Under the plans, 12 car parks would get an increase from 70p to 80p for an hour and £1.50 to £1.60 for two hours.
But in Emsworth and Waterlooville the charge would increase to 90p for one hour and £1.80 for two hours.
Council leaders say the reason is that these car parks are two of the most well-used in the borough.
Brendan Gibb-Gray, from the business association, said: ‘There’s grave concern.
‘The business association members are feeling the impact of what seems to them like a bit of a recession.
‘I have made my objection, saying to them it’s going to unfairly hit businesses and shoppers.’
Mr Gibb-Gray criticised the parking set-up at the council offices, where councillors and officers park for free.
He said: ‘If we are asking residents to pay more to park, should we not be sharing some of their pain?’
Janet Cowley, 51, pictured, from Chidham, near Emsworth, said: ‘It discourages people – they won’t come into the town as much.’
The higher increases in Emsworth and Waterlooville were considered by the council’s scrutiny board, which recommended the new charges were in line with the rest of the borough.
Not implementing the increases would mean the council would have a deficit in the forthcoming budget.
The council’s cabinet has now asked the scrutiny board to propose possible ways the money could be raised without having higher charges in two car parks.
Leader Tony Briggs said: ‘The bottom line is we have to balance the budget.
‘If we don’t it will require an increase in council taxation.
‘We have been very clear over the last four years that we don’t wish in these present economic times to increase taxation.’
He said parking charges at The Plaza would be reviewed as the £13m refurbishment nears completion.