Retailers across Surrey are banding together to protest against county-wide parking proposals as the council seeks to replenish its coffers.

Surrey County Council stands to make more than £2.5m by implementing fees in 3,500 on-street parking spaces across the county in the next 12 months.

Retailers in the borough of Elmbridge are facing some of the most stringent proposals, with those in the picturesque village of Claygate battling against "abhorrent" plans to introduce metered parking at a flat rate of 60p an hour.

The rates, which have so far been opposed by more than 3,000 local people in a retailer-organised petition, would "kill off" Claygate's independent stores, which at present still include a butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer and convenience store, Sully Kurrm, owner of Johnstons newsagent, told Convenience Store.

"People pop into Claygate to pick up a newspaper from us and their daily bread from the bakery. They won't do that if they have to pay 60p every day," she said.

"The meters, which restrict parking to one hour, would also deter people who like to spend longer in the village, visiting one of its three independent cafés and delis," she added.

Retailers and residents last week attended a meeting to discuss how best to fight the charges and are planning a protest march.

Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director Shane Brennan applauded the retailers' persistence. "Councils can do untold damage to the health of the retail economy in their areas by badly thought-through parking policy. At a time when shops are closing on high streets up and down the country a hike in parking changes could be enough to push some towns over the edge," he said.

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