FREE PARKING in Shirley set to be cut amid opposition from 1,650 petitioners, high street traders and an MP.
There were fears the current three-hour period of free parking would be reduced to only 30 minutes at council-operated car parks in line with controversial regulations imposed in Knowle last year.
But a compromise was offered by Solihull Council chiefs to slash free parking for motorists to only one hour, which has been backed by cabinet at last night’s (February 7) meeting.
At present, motorists get three hours free parking at council-run car parks across Shirley including Church Road and Red Lion Square, behind Iceland and Aldi on the Stratford Road.
There have been widespread calls to keep the current system.
But chiefs hope the measure will save about £80,000 compared to the £150,000 it would have saved if 30 minute regulations were introduced.
The measure is expected to be introduced from September.
The second hour will now cost 40p with progressive charges above that.
There was fierce opposition to proposals with a petition led by Green ward Councillor Tim Hodgson gaining more than 1,650 signatures.
Numerous traders on the Shirley high street also condemned the reduction saying it will lead to a fall in footfall and subsequent squeeze on margins.
Councillor Ted Richards said the money raised will go towards other projects. He said: “I am content this evening to say that with that help highways will be able to go forward with improving road safety maintaining our highways in the condition which residents expect.
“Also give them the opportunity with that help to project the school streets scheme which residents were asking for.
“We are also looking at perhaps increasing the amount of average speed cameras.
“I think it has to be recognised that the pressures on the transport and highways budget is getting more and more demanding.”
Mr Knight had previously said: “One of the things which helps define a distinct community such as Shirley is the character of its high street.
“I’m proud to support local independent retailers, and the very last thing we need is new rules which make it harder for nearby residents to support them.
“Not only would the new parking restrictions put bricks-and-mortar shops at a further disadvantage against online giants such as Amazon, but also against nearby private retail developments such as Parkgate.
“I urge the council to reject these proposals and support our high street.”
Coun Hodgson said: “The Conservatives seem to forget that when Parkgate was built, a motion was passed to guarantee the council car parks would match the Parkgate car park to support the smaller businesses and community groups.
“Reducing to one hour would favour the supermarkets and big business, not the independent traders and groups like churches and community centres.
“I think it’s outrageous they’re doing this.”
Free parking in Knowle is also set to revert back to one hour.
A final decision on the measure will be made at a full council meeting on February 28.