Hundreds sign petition to retain free car parking in St Neots

A CAMPAIGN to retain free car parking in St Neots town centre is gathering pace with hundreds of people signing a petition. The introduction of parking charges at Riverside and Cambridge Street car parks was first discussed by district and county council

A CAMPAIGN to retain free car parking in St Neots town centre is gathering pace with hundreds of people signing a petition.

The introduction of parking charges at Riverside and Cambridge Street car parks was first discussed by district and county councillors in November.

Although a final decision is yet to be made, St Neots town councillors have been collecting support in opposition of the plans.

So far more than 500 people have signed petitions.

Cllr Barry Chapman said if car parking charges were introduced at Riverside and Cambridge Street it would have a detrimental impact on the town.

He said: "We are all very upset about it. Parking restrictions will have a serious impact on the town. It would lead to more people parking in side roads, more congestion over the bridge and in the town centre. We do not want this."

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He added: "We are the only Huntingdonshire town that has seen a reduction in footfall [number of shoppers] during the recession and even more empty shops. We should be supporting our shops not driving trade elsewhere.

"We need to offer free parking to get people into the town and give trade a boost."

Cllr Steve van de Kerkhove added: "The surprise is how many of the users of the Riverside Car Park are from out of area. We have had people signing from Rushden, Higham Ferrers and Biggleswade as well as more local villages. They have all commented that one of the key reasons they come to St Neots is because of the free parking. Without it, they might just as well go to Bedford or another large town. A car park charge is an unacceptable attack on small businesses.

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