CAMPAIGNERS have stepped up the fight to overturn new charges being introduced for parking permits.
A petition has been set up against the decision by city Tory traffic boss Ken Ellcome to make drivers living in a residents zone pay for their first parking pass.
The councillor has agreed to consult residents whether they would pay up to £40 a year to park one car – but will not ask if they want their permit kept free so a charging scheme will definitely be introduced.
Fees would increase for more than one permit.
The petition, set up by the Lib Dem group, has attracted nearly 500 signatures.
But Cllr Ellcome reiterated the council lost £180,000 operating its 36 parking zones last year – and the Lib Dems stopped introducing new ones in 2012 due to the deficit.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: ‘I hope this petition will influence people to change their mind.
‘People are very upset, especially as there is a simpler way of making the money that doesn’t mean we have to charge.
‘One of people’s real worries is the charge will start at £40, but will that go up and up?’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the way forward was to introduce part-time parking schemes similar to the former MC zone in Southsea, which made the council money.
And he warned the Tories were putting ‘the cart before the horse’ carrying out a review into the operation of parking schemes after consulting about charges.
‘There’s been talk of this review for six months, and so far, nothing has happened,’ said Cllr Vernon-Jackson.
Cllr Ellcome said: ‘Gerald says there should be a third option – “keeping it free”.
‘Nobody would choose to pay if there is a free option.
‘However that would leave an ongoing deficit.
‘More subsidy from council taxpayers around the city would be needed, who are unable to park in areas that their taxes are supporting.
‘Why should residents remain exempt from this contribution when cuts to essential services are having to be made?’
Cllr Eleanor Scott, a former Lib Dem, said in a statement to the council the group had previously considered introducing charges.