Protest over plan to scrap free Sunday parking

A protest meeting has been held in Kent as a council is set to scrap free parking on Sundays.

Across Tonbridge and Malling the charging period at council-run car parks will extend from 18:00 BST to 20:00, and will now include Sundays and bank holidays.

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council said the changes were agreed to help meet the rising costs of running its car parks.

Graham Simmonds, who organised the public meeting on Sunday, said he thought Tonbridge would "without a doubt" suffer financially due to people not visiting the town as frequently.

'It's just madness'

Mr Simmonds, who said there was "huge anger" in the town over the agreed changes, said that in two weeks a petition gained more than 3,000 signatures.

"People come into Tonbridge to enjoy the park, to enjoy the castle, to do a bit of shopping, and bring money into our local economy," he added.

Teresa Seamer, who runs a gift shop on the high street, said that business was already "harder than ever".

She added: "The footfall has dropped and on a Sunday it is the best day of the week. It's absolutely amazing. The whole town changes, it's just such a wonderful place to be.

"People can relax, they've got no time restraints. And if the charges come in that's just going to stop, and honestly it would be devastating. It's just madness."

The council said it had taken on board public feedback with councillors agreeing a "number of concessions".

"These include periods of free parking at car parks across the borough, dropping plans to extend the Upper Castle Field car park in Tonbridge and providing free parking for users of the Angel Leisure Centre during the new charging periods," a spokesperson added.

Parking on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and overnight will remain free.

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