Thousands back parking charge campaign

A CAMPAIGN set up to oppose the introduction of car park charges in Ely has attracted thousands of supporters, just a week after it was launched.

The campaign and petition, organised by the Say NO to Car Parking Charges group, has been in dozens of shops around the city for less than a week but has already received the support of 3000 shoppers.

Campaigners say the introduction of car park charges will discourage visitors from visiting the city centre and will have a devastating effect on traders but East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) says it has been forced to introduce the charges because of Government cuts.

“We are doing pretty well with the petition,” said campaign member Andrew Olley. “It is well on course for three thousands signatures now and it is in about 40-50 shops around the city. ”

A campaign page has also been set up on social networking site Facebook, with almost 100 members already on board.

Group member Claire Putteril, posted: “If consumers have to pay to park they will go to the large store out of town and we will lose our small shops and lose our community.”

In a letter to the Ely Standard last week, Paradise Centre manager John Blunt, said: “If the council agrees to implement civil parking enforcement and apply car parking charges, the effect will be to make the centre unaffordable for many of the low income or disadvantaged users.

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Peter Moakes, leader of ECDC, said: “We have all enjoyed the benefits of free parking throughout the city with restrictions only on the length of time people could park.

“Unfortunately, things can’t stay the same forever especially in the context of the world which we now live in where our Government grants fall year on year while demands on our services have increase. “I would like to stress that when we put forward proposals, – we will consult widely and openly about them.”