Parking charges hurt business, say Barking and Dagenham traders

Twenty pence an hour parking charges will be introduced at two Barking and Dagenham shopping parades, despite businesses protesting the proposal.

Petitions opposing plans to install pay and display meters in Faircross Parade, Barking and Broad Street, Dagenham were rejected by councillors at last Wednesday’s assembly meeting.

The businesses who signed the petitions, which had 285 and 106 signatures respectively, believe charging people 20p an hour to park will keep shoppers away.

Barking and Dagenham Council said parking fees are needed because the current system, allowing motorists to park for up to two hours for free, is regularly abused and difficult to enforce. According to the authority, this has meant many shoppers struggle to find a place to park.

Speaking at the meeting at Barking Town Hall, Richard Mackenzie, owner of the Four Season Florist, in Broad Street, said businesses in the parade were “overwhelmingly upset”, by the plans.

“Shoppers will choose to go to supermarkets over the parade if charges are introduced as they offer free parking,” he said. “There is not a parking problem in Broad Street at the moment, so there is no need for these meters.”

But council leader Liam Smith disagreed and said there were issues with parking in the area, especially in the evening.

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“After 5pm a lot of vehicles fill up the parking spots and stay longer than they should, which has upset residents,” he said.

“This is not a money making scheme – we are only charging 20p an hour which is very low. In Romford there are places where it costs �1 a hour.”

Cllr Smith said the council would speak to businesses a year after the scheme is implemented, and if it is found that the charges have had a negative effect on sales it will consider an alternative.

After the meeting Mr Mackenzie told the Post he was “very disappointed”.

He added: “It may only be 20p, but people don’t like being made to pay to park, especially if they are just stopping off to pick up a couple of things. We’ll have to see what happens, but I’m not hopeful.”