Parking in Harrow is in 'tatters' according to one councillor as the chamber debated how to revitalise the local economy.
The council met on Thursday last week to discuss the growing concern among businesses, shoppers and politicians that a lack of free or discounted parking is hurting the local economy in tough times.
A scheme was tabled to introduce 20 minutes of free parking across the borough and trialled in Rayners Lane, but was rejected by the Conservative cabinet as it could potentially cost £1million each year.
Tory leader of the council, Councillor Susan Hall, told the meeting: "We do have a problem with parking in Harrow, but how can it be fair to raise council tax by one per cent – because that is what it would cost – on people who cannot afford to drive. We need to look at this as this is a chance to deliver something that is fair to our residents, but if you're going to do something, you need to do it properly."
Time is of the essence however, as councillors warned that shoppers are already flocking to neighbouring borough Hillingdon to take advantage of their more favourable system which gives preferential rates to participating businesses and shopping centres.
The evening did however grant a victory for campaigners in North Harrow.
James Bond, an Independent councillor for the Headstone North ward, presented a petition from 3,352 of his constituents in North Harrow who feared that the free parking area in Cambridge Road, North Harrow, that was initiated to rejuvenate the area was to be taken away by the end of the year following a decision by the then-portfolio holder in September, Independent Labour's Councillor Asad Omar.
Mr Bond warned the council of the impact that losing the free parking could have on the area.
He said: "The good work done by the business and regeneration group, traders and residents will all be for nothing. This is not fair at all and everybody in this room knows it. This borough's parking is in absolute tatters."
The Conservative administration voiced their admiration of Hillingdon's HillingdonFirst card, and met on Tuesday last week with their Raymond Puddifoot, the borough's council leader, to discuss the system which is being mooted as a potential solution to parking in Harrow.
Harrow Council met again on Monday, when the administration confirmed that the 20-minute free parking scheme would not be rolled out borough-wide.
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