TRADERS are fighting back against a controversial hike in parking charges across the Havant borough.
Shopkeepers have reacted angrily to the move by Havant Borough Council which means shoppers will have to pay an extra 30 pence an hour to park in all of the borough’s town centres – including Havant, Hayling Island and Emsworth.
The new fees, set to come in next month, will see hourly parking rise from 70p to £1 and two hours from £1.50 to £1.60.
Traders in Hayling have organised a crunch meeting for Tuesday next week and are set to petition the council to reconsider the decision.
Meanwhile, Emsworth traders have launched a loyalty card to reward shoppers who regularly use local shops.
Hayling councillor Andy Lenaghan said: ‘There is scope for the council to rethink these charges.
‘It’s caused a lot of anger on Hayling Island.
‘I think it’s an excessive charge.
‘We have got no large stores on Hayling Island.
‘If someone wants to go and get a prescription or a daily paper, it’s going to cost them more, or they will drive somewhere they don’t have to pay.
‘That’s not very environmentally friendly and it’s not good for the small businessman.’
Terry Jordan, chairman of Havant Business Association, has spoken to the council about his concerns.
He said: ‘I’ve already had people coming into my shop complaining.
‘It’s a disgrace. They have made a big, big mistake.
‘It’s bad enough as it is at the moment, trade is quiet.’
Brendan Gibb-Gray, chairman of Emsworth Business Association, said: ‘We will be starting a loyalty card in Emsworth on January 12. That’s our response.
‘Our headline is “Emsworth fights back”.’
The business association has invested around £1,000 in the loyalty scheme, which has rewards including free dental treatment and restaurant vouchers.
Council leaders stressed that the parking price rise is the first increase in town centre charges in two years.
Havant Borough Council leader Tony Briggs said rising inflation and benefit reforms had increased the council’s costs and added over £1.5m to its expenditure, which has to be met by increasing some charges.