Hundreds of people took to the streets of Steyning yesterday to say Bah Humbug to plans by Horsham District Council to introduce new parking charges in the town.
Many dressed up in festive hats and Scrooge-style costumes to get their message across that the town wants to maintain free parking.
Horsham District Council is proposing to bring in £12-a-year charges for short stays, along with pay and display machines and £130-a-year season tickets.
The council says it needs to raise around £300,000 to fund the car parks because of Government funding cuts.
But local residents say the charges will stop people from shopping locally and will hit local businesses hard.
However, Steyning Parish Council has already said it could raise cash by adding a small sum to the parish council tax.
Resident Sheree Grindell said: “The thing that makes Steyning such a special place is it’s community spirit. We would rather pay a little bit more to make sure we continue to have a High Street full of independent shops than see them close because people don’t want to pay for parking.”
And Nick Hempleman, owner of The Sussex Produce Company, said: “The ghost of Christmas Present would say: ‘Free parking is absolutely vital in a small town like Steyning. Without it you will see more businesses close - we;’ve just lost our two bank branches - and once businesses start to close, more follow. You see that in high streets across the country.”
Meanwhile, in the Roffey area of Horsham - where new charges are proposed for Godwin Way car park behind a shopping parade in Fitzalan Road - people took to social media to express their dismay.
On the website streetlife.com, one woman said: “People should not have to pay to park when visiting local shops or chemists, which for some people are life savers. For goodness sake, let’s keep alive local communities.”
And West Sussex County Councillor Morwen Millson said that Horsham District Council wanted to have “the same charging policy for all rural car parks, including Godwin Way, and claim that car parks are expensive to maintain, so they need the users to contribute.
“I think it is absolutely the wrong thing to do, it will hit the local shops and local residents - as county councillor, I already get complaints about parking in local roads. This is bound to get worse.”