Hundreds of motorists and traders have signed a petition calling on Havering Council to reverse a "short-sighted" hike in parking charges.

Since the start of April, the tariff for one hour's parking from Monday to Saturday  in Romford has gone up from £1.50 in 2022-23 to £2.10 this year.

The charges rise as the hours increase, with the rate for 5 to 6 hours now £9.60, compared to £6.50 last year.

The price of a quarterly season ticket in Romford central area car park has soared from £210 to £336 similarly, while the monthly charge has risen from £75 to £120 this year.

This, in addition to the council’s move to promote app-only payments at some parking locations, has prompted fury.

An online petition on started recently by campaigner Paul Hammond has already received close to 600 signatures towards its target of 1,000.

The petition says: “We feel that there has not been adequate information presented to residents before the price change. We oppose these unfair increases and call upon the council to reconsider their short-sighted decision.”

Mehmet Hassan, the owner of The Rosie Lee café in London Road, told the Recorder his business is now finding it difficult to survive.

Until Christmas last year, the council had a one-hour free parking policy on his street that helped them recover after the pandemic. With the hike in parking charges, he now says customers are reluctant to stop by.

Romford Recorder: The Rosie Lee Cafe on London Road in Romford run by Mehmet HassanThe Rosie Lee Cafe on London Road in Romford run by Mehmet Hassan (Image: Mehmet Hassan)

He said: “This is ridiculous. As soon as people park, they go to the meter and find out its £2.10 for an hour and they just drive off. No one is willing to pay that kind of money to park for an hour. This is not even a prime location.

“The food cost has gone up, the electricity cost has gone up and on top of that we have this problem to face with."

Mr Hassan, 50, organised an informal meeting with other residents and local councillors yesterday.

Rush Green and Crowlands ward councillor Viddy Persaud, who was at the meeting, said: “This isn’t fair… Some parts of the borough like Hornchurch, Upminster have got their 30 minutes of free parking. So, why shouldn’t businesses on London Road have that?

Fellow Conservative ward councillor Timothy Ryan, also present, said: “They (the residents) are quite simply fed up with being excluded and that's the reason why we must fight for what is right.”

St Albans ward councillor Judith Holt (Con), called the hike a "war on motorists" in an email. She said she has received complaints from a number of residents who are enraged by it.

She wrote: “Most of the roads in St Alban's Ward, like Craigdale Road and George Street, were built over 100 years ago and have no off-street parking. People have no choice but to park in the road - but, they continue to be penalised for it."

Romford Recorder: Cllr Judith Holt holding a copy of the revised parking charges for residents in her wardCllr Judith Holt holding a copy of the revised parking charges for residents in her ward (Image: Cllr Judith Holt)

She also criticised the council’s decision to scrap the pay-and-display machines in favour of app-only payments in her ward. She added: "This is unfair on those who are not au fait with apps - especially older people - and, in the long run, will dissuade visitors from Romford and the rest of Havering.”

A Havering Council spokesperson said the council has "no choice" but to increase the parking fees as the cost of running council services has increased drastically in recent years due to inflation.

He said: “Whilst we appreciate this does not provide very much consolation it should be noted that charges for permits have not been increased since September 2017.

“We will however continue to review our charges as part of the annual budget cycle.”

Another spokesperson also stated that more than 85% of parking spaces will have access to a parking machine nearby. She said the council’s plan is to make a small number of on-street locations app-only where there is historically low usage of existing machines and have alternative parking options nearby.

She added: “All new parking ticket machines will offer card payment, as well as the current app only solution and nearby PayPoint facilities.”