WORCESTER'S MP gathered 150 signatures on a petition to get a council to rethink a parking charge hike which will he says will "hurt the High Street".
Robin Walker was joined by local councillors, Philip Bradbourn MEP and Alex Avern, who is a candidate to become an MEP for the West Midlands in Worcester on Saturday.
The petition reads: “We the undersigned are concerned that plans to raise parking costs in Worcester by 10 per cent will hurt the High Street. They would be bad news for local businesses and may not even raise more money.
The city council should be doing everything it can to help small businesses. Higher parking charges risk driving visitors away and adding to the parking and traffic problems in nearby residential streets.
We therefore urge that parking charges in Worcester City Centre be frozen or reduced.”
The increase in charges, if approved at a full council meeting at Worcester Guildhall on February 25, will come into force on April 1.
Although the weather conditions meant that many shoppers were unable to stop and sign the petition, almost everybody who took the time to read it agreed that putting up parking charges would be a bad idea and in the space of just over one hour over 150 people signed, Mr Walker said.
These included managers or staff as almost every shop in the lower end of the High Street and many of the shops in CrownGate and residents on nearby streets. Mr Walker said: “It is very clear that there is enormous concern both amongst shoppers, High Street businesses and people living around the city centre about the Labour Group’s ill thought out plans to increase parking charges. After the previous administration cut the cost of parking and offered discounted rates, revenues fell by less than expected because more people used the city council’s car parks. Surely they can see the opposite is likely to be the case if they put charges up?”
But Cllr Adrian Gregson, the Labour leader of Worcester City Council, said: "I'm disappointed that Robin Walker seems determined to turn car parking prices into a political football. The removal of the half hour car park window fee is very supportive of of retail businesses. It means people will spend more time in the city in the shops, cafes and restaurants. We have also kept St Martin's Gate Car Park open at the same price - £3.60 per day which is excellent value for commuters and for people who want to stay longer in the city." He also said Worcester's car parking was good value compared to other similar sized towns or cities like Cheltenham and Solihull. He said: "To suggest we're not supportive of small businesses is a nonsense." Cllr Gregson said the issue was much broader than parking charges and included business rate relief to help small businesses.