MORE than 12,000 signatures have been handed in to Fareham Borough Council protesting against the introduction of parking charges to two shopping areas.
The council sent out a survey at the end of last year asking residents on their views about parking across the area.
And one of the questions was about the possibility of introducing parking charges in areas such as Portchester and Stubbington.
Last week, a petition with 6,431 names was handed in to the council from people in Portchester.
That’s on top of almost 7,000 signatures on a petition in Stubbington.
Kevin Butcher, a partner at pet shop Petfayre in Portchester, said he’s not surprised by the large numbers of people who have signed the petitions.
‘I know how strong the feelings are in the area about this,’ he said.
‘People don’t want to have to pay to park.
‘The shops would start to close because there wouldn’t be as many people coming through the doors.’
Councillor Jim Forrest, ward councillor for Stubbington, added: ‘People in Stubbington were horrified because the big thing for them is that the stores are competing against the big superstores and out-of-town centres which have free car parks.
‘They were quite right to be concerned.
‘It would have grave implications for Stubbington and the other similar district centres like Portchester.
‘People who are attracted to the local shops would have a new expense that they don’t have if they go to Sainsbury’s or Tesco.
‘It would put a lot of local businesses which serve the local community well, at risk.’
But councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the council, has denied rumours that any decision has already been made.
He said: ‘There was nothing in the residential survey which proposed parking charges in Portchester.
‘There are a lot of general questions in there.
‘Those results are now in and are being worked on.
‘The decision over whether any extra charges may or may not happen will be made on April 2.
‘Those petitions will both be considered then.
‘No proposal was ever made.
‘Some people have started to make mischief suggesting otherwise.
‘The only decision that we have made so far is to freeze parking charges in the town centre.
‘We only charge for parking in the town centre anyway.’
The council will meet on Monday, April 2 to make a decision.