Weekend parking charges protest

April 29, 2009 4:51 PM
By Matthew Ward in Brentwood Gazette
Nigel Clarke, Linda Price, Cllr Ross Carter, Cllr Karen Chilvers, Cllr David Kendall and Cllr Barry Aspinell collecting petition signatures in the car park on Saturday 25th April 2009

Nigel Clarke, Linda Price, Cllr Ross Carter, Cllr Karen Chilvers, Cllr David Kendall and Cllr Barry Aspinell collecting petition signatures in the car park on Saturday 25th April 2009

PLANS to introduce car parking charges on Saturdays at Brentwood Town Hall are facing strong opposition.

Liberal Democrat party leader Cllr David Kendall was collecting signatures opposing the changes in the town on Saturday.

Cllr Kendall said: "We feel this move is completely inappropriate, particularly given the current financial climate.

"The council should not be taking steps that are going to make life more difficult for the people of the town.

"The free parking at the town hall has been a hugely popular way of getting people to visit the town for 50-odd years, and now they have announced that it will end."

Brentwood Borough Council passed proposals to introduce the charges last month.

Charges will be in line with those already in force at the William Hunter Way car park - from 80p for one hour, to £10 for six hours or over.

Mr Kendall was joined on Saturday by fellow Lib Dem and Brentwood West councillor, Karen Chilvers, who said: "The free parking is very useful for people who just want to 'pop in' to drop off a library book or something. We do not want to lose that."

The Brentwood Gazette spoke to several shoppers as they parked up at the town hall on Saturday to visit the shops, and all said the introduction of charges would mean they would come into town less often.

David Rudd, of St Peters Road, Warley, said: "I use this car park once or twice a week and fully support the campaign to keep it free.

"It encourages people to come into the town otherwise more and more will just start going to the big out-of-town places where shopping is free."

Pat Jude of Eleanor Way, Brentwood, said: "I am not very happy about charges being brought in - the car park is already here, and paid for, so it doesn't cost them anything to let the public use it at the weekend. I've always thought of it as a nice little perk of living in Brentwood - getting to use it for free.

"I'm not keen on multi-storey car parks, and would hate to lose this one."

Clare Stockbridge-Bland, of Hutton, said: "It seems totally counter-productive to me. Brentwood High Street is struggling and this will just make things worse.

"I'm sure I will make less trips into town - and there will be a lot more illegal parking, clogging up the roads and creating a danger to motorists."

So far, Mr Kendall has collected 240 signatures for the petition calling for the charges to be scrapped.

It can be signed at www.brentwood- ongarlibdems.org.uk or by dropping in to The Hair Company in Crown Street, Brentwood.

Brentwood council says the new charges are tied to keeping council tax low.

Council leader Cllr Louise McKinlay also said officers had been monitoring the town hall car park very carefully and claim it's often full by 8.30am, indicating that it is being used by people working in the town and not by shoppers.