Angry residents and local shop owners came face to face with the leader of Havering Council last night at Upminster library.
The hostile meeting took place just after five o clock, following a demonstration outside the building where chants of ‘save our shops’ could be heard throughout Upminster.
Tensions ran high and unhappiness was the common theme at the increase in parking charges but more specifically the removal of the free thirty minutes that was a vital life line for so many residents in the borough.
Councillor Damian White, the leader of Havering Council left the meeting early and was obstructed from getting into his vehicle by angry residents challenging him on his decisions.
Simon Ford from Havering Local Businesses told the Havering Daily, ‘We are here regarding the parking issues in Hornchurch and Upminster where the council have taken away the free parking, and have also increased the fee for local parking.
‘We feel that the council are jeopardising the High Street rather than encouraging the High Street, jeopardising local businesses. We will not stop protesting until the free parking is reinstated. ‘
Julie Barwick, the owner of Floral Affairs in Upminster, was also at the protest yesterday and told the Havering Daily, ‘The parking issues have really affected us, we are about forty per cent down on footfall through our door.
‘We are going to lose a lot more shops on our high street. We all work together here, it is a very community orientated area and we are striving to keep this community going. But its like swimming against the tide. It is not so much the increase in parking but the removal of the free half an hour that has affected so many people.
‘Simple things like picking up prescriptions, popping into a shop to get bread, the cafe next door us is losing business as people don’t want to pay an extra £1.50p on top of their meal. Whereas the free half hour gave people the chance to stop get what they need and go again.’
Present at the protest was South Hornchurch Residents Association Councillor Graham Williamson, he told the Havering Daily, ‘I’m here today to show solidarity with the Hornchurch and Upminster shop keepers and local residents following the increase in parking charges and removal of the free thirty minutes.
‘It is having a big impact on shop keepers, their turn over has gone down since the removal of the free thirty minutes, I understand the council are strapped for cash and have to look for ways to make money but this is a bad move.
‘The Residents Association put forward a motion where we didn’t have to lose the thirty minutes and when the figures are released will show that the council have not raised anywhere near the money they thought. The leader needs to think again. ‘