“IF we did not have to do this then we would not”, were the words of Havering’s Council leader, Councillor Damian White speaking about the controversial issue of the scrapping of free parking in Hornchurch and Upminster.
Currently residents in Hornchurch and Upminster can park for thirty minutes free of charge, however this is likely to change.
Shopkeepers in the borough have come together to join forces against the council and a protest has taken place outside the town hall in a bid to stop this motion from going forward.
Protest organiser Barry Major told The Enquirer: “I heard about the council’s bid to scrap the free parking here and I decided to start a petition against it and in the first twelve hours I got over a thousand signatures.” Now two weeks on Barry who owns Major Glass and Glazing and lives in Hornchurch, has received over 8,000 signatures and has organised his first ever protest.
“This will have a big impact on our community. So many people use the free thirty minutes, carers who park and have to pick prescriptions for their patients, nurses who can’t always park at Queen’s Hospital so use council car parks on Sunday. Parents who use this facility to go and collect their children from school and often grab a quick coffee and chat with other parents. All vital members of the community. This will make a huge impact on us here.”
Councillor White is aware of the unpopularity of the decision and said: “I do sympathise with people, I know this is not a popular decision but unfortunately we are having to make savings in every area and we want to make sure that the most vulnerable in our borough do not suffer.
“There will still be free parking in Hornchurch, Sainsbury’s car park is free for two hours and you do not have to be a Sainsbury’s shopper to use the car park.”
Mr Major, continued: “I’d like the council to think about their decision, I believe that this will cause irreversible damage to our community. Im worried we will see lots of shops close.
“Smaller shops can not stand a heavy blow of this kind and we will see more shops closing. I fear this will push more people to Lakeside where there is free parking.”