Surrey council urged to scrap extra parking charges

Parking meter
Image caption Liberal Democrats fear the extra costs of paying to park will discourage short visits to local shops

Plans to introduce new on-street charges for car parking bays throughout Surrey should be scrapped, Liberal Democrat councillors have said.

The Conservative-controlled Surrey County Council plans to implement the charges to about 3,500 parking spaces in an attempt to boost local business.

However, traders fear the cost to shoppers will have a negative impact.

Opposition Liberal Democrats said the proposal was "an unnecessary blow during a time of economic difficulty".

They have tabled a motion to be discussed in a meeting of the full council on 22 March.

The proposer of the motion, Councillor Stephen Cooksey, said the extra charges would "hit many of Surrey's small businesses hard, discouraging short visits to local shops and result in even more pressure on already overcrowded residential streets".

'Unacceptable imposition'

The motion has been seconded by Councillor John Orrick, who added that local people would be inconvenienced "seeking a brief parking period to visit a cashpoint, collect a parcel or a prescription or make a simple purchase".

"This is an unacceptable imposition on retailers and residents which can only inconvenience local people," he said.

Councillor Ian Lake, Conservative cabinet member for transport, said he thought the scheme would boost local businesses by increasing the turnover of motorists.

He said last year the parking service made a £500,000 deficit, which was not sustainable.

If the plans are approved, the charges could be rolled out in Reigate and Banstead, and Elmbridge boroughs in May.

Surrey Heath and Spelthorne could follow in the summer, with the scheme rolled out county-wide by March 2012.

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