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Drivers see red at parking hike

DRIVERS and traders are furious that they will be hit in the pocket by above-inflation rises at many of Harrow's car parks.

DRIVERS and traders are furious that they will be hit in the pocket by above-inflation rises at many of Harrow's car parks.

Increases in council charges revealed this week will affect virtually all of Harrow Council's fees and charges, from burial plots to children's services and waste disposal.

And drivers will feel the pinch from an increase in car parking fees and parking permits, at a time when petrol prices are higher than ever.

In Pinner, where traders have campaigned for free on-street parking to attract more shoppers, the cost of stopping on Bridge Street will rise 20 per cent, an extra 10p an hour.

Bob Preig, a butcher with Hilton and Family, in Bridge Street, Pinner, was one of nearly 2,500 people to sign a petition last year calling for free 30-minute parking.

He said: "It is unbelievable. We ask them to give us a concession and they respond by putting the prices up.

"They seem to think Pinner has got a never-ending pot of money. Every day people will complain to me about parking, about how they can park for free elsewhere.

"It is mad - I don't know why they think we can afford these price rises."

Herbie Crossman, a driver from Rayners Lane, added: "It is absolutely disgusting. It is time for us to ask where the money has gone. Drivers are not getting a fair deal."

The council's cabinet is due to approve the increases in a civic centre meeting at 7.30pm today (Thursday), and has blamed its decision on the VAT rise and high inflation.

Parking charges across the borough will be reviewed, but in the meantime drivers will have to bear the brunt of what the council calls 'reasonable' price hikes.

Councillor Philip O'Dell (Weald-stone, Labour), portfolio holder for environment and community safety, said: "We want a fair system of parking charges across the borough to support local business and protect residents' parking.

"It is important that residents and traders are involved in this and we are currently carrying out a parking review which will report back in the summer.

"In the meantime we are proposing some small changes to parking fees to reflect the rise in VAT and increased costs caused by inflation.

"These reasonable increases balance our desire to support our shopping centres while covering the council's costs."

Nine of the council's 14 public car parks will see price rises of between six and 20 per cent.

All council parking permits are also affected, going up on average by eight per cent.

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