Controversial plans to introduce parking charges in Ely, Cambridgeshire have been deferred thanks to a last-minute appeal by residents and traders.

East Cambridgeshire District Council had proposed to introduce a pre-pay annual permit scheme costing £20 per year and a fixed daily pay-and-display £1 charge per day for short-term parking. Despite the fact that over three-quarters of a public consultation were against the plans, the council seemed set to go ahead with the charges.

Local retailer Jonathan James said the plan to implement charges was “completely ridiculous” and would have destroyed small businesses in the area. “Tesco is planning to treble the size of its nearby store, Sainsbury’s is set to open an out-of-town development with an underground car park and Lidl has submitted a planning application, all of which would have created hundreds of free parking spaces outside of Ely city centre,” he said. “Meanwhile the council decided to introduce charges for the high street which would have killed it off altogether.”

Numerous local traders united to lobby against the proposed charges, organising a petition with over 12,000 signatures. Following a public appeal, the council decided to shelf the charges for the time being. “Ely traders stood shoulder to shoulder to oppose this plan and we’re delighted that it’s been finally deferred by the council,” said Jonathan. “The last thing Ely needed was another reason for people to stay away from the high street.”

Council chief executive John Hill said the charges had been deferred “in recognition of public concern and the petition”. proposals, they will be presented again to the public for consultation”.