Save our shops

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Residents Association councillors from all across Havering joined forces last Saturday to fight against the car park increases across the borough.

The group launched their ‘SOS, Save Our Shops Campaign’ to bring back the free thirty minutes for Havering residents, angry that the increase in parking charges have caused endless problems for the local community.

Cranham Councillor Gillian Ford told The Enquirer: “These increases are killing off our high streets. You go to any car park in the borough and now you can easily find places to park as most of them are nearly empty.

“Locals are up in arms about these increases in Hornchurch and Upminster as it is the local shops that are suffering. It is just so unfair, so many members of the community are suffering.

“Parents are having to pay £3 a day to park, carers are having to pay to collect their patients prescriptions, people popping in to go to local shops are now not doing this and going to larger superstores as their parking is free. So our high streets are being killed.”

Councillor Ford continued “The Conservative Administration, supported by the Harold Wood ward councillors, voted in increases to car parking charges at the February Budget Setting meeting, despite opposition from Residents’ Associations councillors from Hornchurch, Upminster & Cranham, South Hornchurch and Rainham.

“Since then, Residents’ Association Councillors have been receiving daily communications from people angry about the loss of the free 30 minutes, the charge for parking after 6.30pm and the new Sunday charge. Businesses have already noticed the drop off in footfall and the car parks are visibly empty.

Emma, a care worker in Upminster told the Enquirer: “Last week I paid three lots of parking charges in one day as I had three different prescriptions to collect across the borough. I used the 30 minutes free all the time before to help me collect medicine for my elderly clients, now I’m spending so much money. Im really struggling, this is terrible for us carers.”

A spokesperson for the Residents’ Associations said, “Despite telling residents they would be listened to, the council failed to recognise the volume of opposition to the proposals and ignored a petition of close to 11,000 signatures. In the first instance we need to bring back the 30 minute free parking. We have received calls from residents saying that they can’t afford to add £1.50 to the cost every time they pop into town to pick up a few bits.

Others have told us that their normal stop at the local bakers, for example, now costs an additional £1.50, so they will go instead to a supermarket where it is free to park.”

Councillor John Tyler added “If we truly care about the shops and businesses in Upminster & Hornchurch, we have got to do something about it and that is exactly what we intend to do! Come and join us and help Save Our Shops!”

South Hornchurch Councillor Graham Williamson told the Enquirer “Whilst I appreciate that the Conservative Government’s austerity policies have starved Councils’ income, Havering’s Administration has been over zealous in finding alternative e.g. car parking charges. They think motorists are an easy touch but are in danger of losing revenue as car owners will avoid our car parks whilst killing shop keepers to boot.”

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