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Traders' react angrily to Gravesham parking charge increases

Parking machine in Ashford
Parking machine in Ashford

The doubling of parking charges in Gravesham will kill off small traders. That is the view of businesses in Gravesend town centre after leading councillors approved plans to increase fees on January 1.

Four hours parking is set to go up from £1 to £2, three hours from 80p to £1.50 and an hour from 50p to 80p. Charges will also apply on Saturdays for the first time in years.

Parking manager Paul Gibbons told Gravesham’s cabinet this week: "We seem to be the only town in the county which offers free parking on Saturdays."

But Jack Kamenou, of the Reliance Fish Restaurant, was appalled. "Shopkeepers are trying to keep the town alive," he said. "What are they doing to help us in the recession?"

Bob Atkinson, of Stamps and Hobbies, said: "It is disgusting what they are doing. If you really, really want to drive everyone to Bluewater, put the prices up.

"It will be the death knell for quite a number of businesses," Kevin Cheema, who owns Cheema Fabrics, said: "It doesn’t help us. It really doesn’t.

"It will definitely have a detrimental effect on the town."

Bill Karim, of the recently opened High Street News, said: "Putting up charges in car parks will push people away."

Council chiefs believe the rises will bring in an extra £400,000 a year.

They say they need the money to offset an inherited budget slipping out of control this year. It is currently £600,000 overspent and emergency action was approved this week to balance the budget by the end of March.

Next year the council has to cut £1.2million off its budget and £1 million a year in 2013 and 2014.

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