THOUSANDS of people have signed a petition against introducing parking charges in Portchester, fearing it could destroy the area.
Fareham Borough Council has carried out a consultation, asking residents and business owners on their views about charges.
Portchester is one of the place mentioned.
Business owners fear for the future of the village if it was to go ahead and more than 5,000 people have now signed a petition campaigning against it.
Kevin Butcher, partner at pet shop Petfayre, said: ‘If they put parking charges in, it will kill Portchester within a year. ‘Portchester is very friendly, everybody still knows it as the village.
‘There are a lot of elderly people here who can’t go far afield. If the shops close down here, they will suffer.’
Lydia Drake, owner of bakery La Boulangerie, said: ‘We all think it’s disgusting. Trade is rubbish anyway.
‘Portchester is dying now so if they put parking charges in, people just won’t come. We all feel the same.
‘There are a few petitions going round. We all want to keep it free.’
Posters have been put up in shop windows with the message ‘say no to parking charges’ and customers have been encouraged to add their names to the petition.
Stella Bell, of the campaign group the Friends of Portchester, said: ‘The general consensus is that it’s going to completely kill Portchester off.
‘If people don’t come, then some of the shops will close.
‘Everybody that you talk to thinks that it will kill it.
‘If the council has got any sense it won’t do it.
‘It will be a derelict area. It will get run down. It’s a lovely place to live, we love it.’
As previously reported in The News, a petition with 7,000 signatures against parking charges in Stubbington village centre has already been handed in to the council.
Sean Woodward, leader of the council, said: ‘It doesn’t say anywhere that we are proposing the charges. It’s just asking for people’s views.
‘We can’t keep doing the same thing forever and not re-consult.
‘If anyone thinks that the consultation means that it’s a proposal then they couldn’t be more wrong.’
Cllr Woodward also announced that parking charges in Fareham town centre will be frozen for the next year.
A decision will be made about the charges at a meeting at the civic offices on Monday, April 2.