9 November 2011, 13:25
East Cambridgeshire District Council has officially announced plans to make people pay to park in car parks in Ely.
For more than a year, The Ely Traders Association has claimed that this course of action would put shoppers of going to the city and threaten the existence of local shops.
More than 12,000 people have signed a petition [pictured - above right] against the plans, and a recent public meeting about the topic attracted more than 100 people.
However, the Council says that it costs too much money to run car parks in the city for free, and as it is facing a big budget shortfall it needs to recoup some of this money.
Under the plans, drivers using Ely's car parks will be charged £1 per day.
Restrictions on waiting times in the city's car parks will remain.
Residents wil be able to pay £20 for a yearly parking permit, which all allow them to use the car parks as often as they do now.
On-street parking will remain free of charge.
A public consultation for residents to have their say about the plans will run from Sunday the 13th November until the end of January 2012.
Councillor Peter Moakes, Chairman of Development and Transport sub committee at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "There has been a lot of discussion in recent months about the impact of car parking charges in Ely.
We promised we would listen and my members have been doing just that as well as researching examples from other parts of the country.
The thousands of people who added their names to the petition against parking charges did so for a reason and our job has been to try and find a balance between their wishes and the ability of the Council to pay for and deliver services to the whole of the District."
Andrew Olley, who manages City Cycle Centre in Ely and is head of the Ely Traders Association, said: "It's very, very, very disappointing that the Council has ignored all of the traders and the 12,000 people who have signed a petition against car parking charges.
We need all the people in East Cambridgeshire to get together, write to the Council, take part in the consultation and say that they don't want parking charges in Ely."