TOWN traders have launched a petition aiming to put pressure on Bromsgrove District Council to reduce car parking charges.

Martin Connellan, owner of Bromsgrove Cobbler in Church Street, says traders have joined together to support the campaign as many fear they could go out of business.

“I know shopkeepers in Bromsgrove will be leaving after Christmas if it doesn’t improve,” he said.

“The charges are extortionate. It has been a struggle for me, and other traders in High Street.

“A lot of shops will be left empty.

"There is a free car park in Alvechurch - we want the free parking Alvechurch has.”

Mr Connellan said that, with other councils in the region making reductions, Bromsgrove council was appalling for not acting.

The petition, calling for “reasonable charges” for the town centre, is being printed and distributed among town shops this week, he added.

The issue of car parking charges has come under the spotlight this year.

In September, councillors rejected a motion calling for significant price reductions on council owned car parks.

And the council is holding a full review into the car parking issue, which is due to report back next spring.

Bromsgrove District Council leader Roger Hollingworth defended the charges, saying it was in fact cheap - highlighting Churchfields multi-storey and Recreation Road South (near ASDA), where the council don’t charge by the hour, instead in increments dependant on the length of the stay.

Coun Hollingworth said: “We are in the process of reviewing the car parking issue.

“If the petition is presented it will be accepted and looked at by the overview and scrutiny committee.

“We are in a deep recession, which has nothing to do with our car parking charges.

“I am confident there is no evidence it (a reduction) will improve town businesses.”

On the Alvechurch car park, Coun Hollingworth said it had never been financially viable to charge on this car park, though the review could recommend this changes.

The leader added that the ideal scenario would be to bring overall charges down, but any reduction would mean an increase in council tax for every Bromsgrove resident.