A PETITION has been launched to prevent the introduction of parking charges in Clevedon.

North Somerset Council has recently put forward proposals to introduce parking fees in Portishead, Clevedon and Nailsea.

However, those who oppose the plans feel that this could threaten the survival of local shops.

The petition, set up by Clevedon Independents, reads: "We are the local shops, cafes, restaurants and other businesses in Clevedon, a town known for its unique mix of independents that are vital to our local economy.

"These businesses contribute significantly to the vibrancy and character of our community.

"However, North Somerset Council is proposing to introduce parking charges in our area. This move threatens not only the survival of these shops but also the economic health of our town.

"It affects every part of the community; businesses, residents, visitors, and will also deter people from investing and opening  new shops and businesses in the town.

"The introduction of parking charges will drive customers away from Clevedon's centre towards out-of-town shopping areas where parking is free. According to data from The British Retail Consortium, high street footfall can decrease by up to 14% following the introduction of parking charges (source: The British Retail Consortium).

"This potential decline in footfall could lead to reduced sales for local businesses and potentially result in closures.

"Furthermore, it's not just about economics; it's about preserving what makes Clevedon unique - its vibrant independent retail sector that adds so much value and charm to our community."

Speaking before a meeting of the council's executive earlier this year, Cllr Hannah Young, executive member for Highways and Transport, said: “National government’s year-on-year failure to invest in councils has put pressure on budgets across the country, impacting on local services and, in some cases, forcing councils into bankruptcy.

"North Somerset is not in that position, but we have to act responsibly to ensure the books are balanced.

“Against this backdrop and a lack of government support, councils are now seeking new ways to invest in their local areas.

"In the case of car parks, like our neighbours in Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, we have decided to look at options to introduce new parking charges in locations that were previously free. 

“These charges would enable us to improve the operation and maintenance of our car parks for residents and visitors. They would also help manage traffic and congestion through the introduction of on-street parking at busy locations."