HAMPSHIRE County Council is being urged to scrap plans to impose parking charges in Lymington High Street in the wake of the pandemic.
The Lymington Society said the move would be “the last straw” for hard-pressed shop owners struggling to recover from the lockdown.
The civic group warned that bringing in parking fees along the High Street and other roads in the town could lead to many businesses facing closure.
In a letter to Cllr Rob Humby, HCC’s cabinet member for economy, transport and environmental, the society said: “We write to urge you in this incredibly difficult time for retailing, and the economy generally, to scrap your plans to impose parking charges on the town.
“Even in the previously weakening climate for retail before the virus, the imposition of charges was very likely to cause significant harm to the shops in the town.
“Now however, the imposition of charges could have a magnified negative effect in this really precarious time for retail confidence.
“I hope that you will now realise that more than ever, this is the wrong policy, at the wrong time and should be scrapped.”
HCC took over regulation of on-street parking from NFDC in April and argued that it needs to introduce charges as a way of covering the costs. There are further plans for on-street charging in New Milton, Barton and Ringwood.
But the Lymington Society has called on HCC to hand back the responsibility to NFDC which is still supervising car parks in the town.
The society said the chamber of commerce and town council are both “vehemently” opposed to the idea of charging for parking along the High Street and other roads.
In reply, Cllr Humby said HCC was “prioritising” economic recovery as the country emerges from lockdown and said it was reviewing the changes to parking charges.
He said: “We have already taken steps to help people go about key business during the outbreak, such as temporarily suspending parking enforcement action unless unlawful parking was causing a danger, and we are now starting to put in some additional walking and cycling measures across the county to support town centre businesses as they reopen with new social distancing measures in place.
“We are reviewing our approach on parking as travel demand is expected to increase when more shops and businesses open from 15th June.
“We will clearly need to consider the proposed introduction of on-street parking charges in this context and will be responding to the business community and town council, who have been in touch with us, shortly.”