AFTER a public outcry led Wirral’s ruling Labour group to axe their pay parking blitz a new call has been made to scrap plans to bring in fees at country parks.
The Globe revealed council leader Phil Davies has decided to drop the scheme to introduce parking charges in town centres, side streets and Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton.
However controversy still surrounds proposals to bring in charges at Eastham, Thurstaston, Arrowe and Royden country parks even though fees have been slashed from an original £4 flat rate to 50p for the first hour or £2 all day.
Conservative group leader Jeff Green said: "I’m delighted the protest campaigns have been successful and the Labour leader has been forced to withdraw his anti-business, anti-employment and anti-resident charging proposals for our town centres.
"However I remain disappointed he has not listened to the 8,786 people who have signed my petition against charges for parking in Wirral’s country parks - which should remain free for everyone to use and enjoy.
"This is a tax on people's leisure time and my campaign against these charges continues.
"Today I am calling on councillor Davies to complete his U-turn and withdraw proposals in their entirety to charge for parking in our wonderful country parks."
Councillor Davies hit back: "Councillor Green should be urging his Government to reverse the austerity policies that are hurting Wirral residents.
"Until I hear Cllr Green call for the £130mi cuts his Government have made to Wirral be reversed, or speak up for proper funding of the National Health Service and adult social care – I will take no lessons from him on what is good for Wirral residents."
More than 16,000 people signed petitions objecting to the charging blitz – and some now suspect the alarming scheme was just a shock tactic to disguise the town hall's true intentions.
Abbas Hussain, who set up a petition on behalf of traders in Heswall where the high street was earmarked for pay-and-display, said: "Yet again the council is playing us all for mugs.
"They announce these ill-thought out plans that will affect businesses and public health - then when we all cry foul they announce their real plans of a modest increase and we are all expected to say how wonderful they are for listening to us.
"They have still introduced charges in public parks as well as increasing charges in their own car parks.
"I wish they would just be honest with us instead of all this spin.”
Darren May, who launched a petition calling for charges in New Brighton to be scrapped, said: “I'm still appalled they had to put everyone through this.
"But let's not dwell on that. I will be out celebrating tonight."
Phil Spencer of Bromborough Village Community Association said: “The sense of relief amongst our traders in Bromborough is enormous and must be echoed throughout Wirral.
“It is no exaggeration that some businesses were facing extinction should this have gone through.
“We are absolutely overjoyed that our village no longer faces such a hideously damaging action by the council.
"It is to their credit that they have listened to the many angry and despairing voices from across Wirral.
“We hope those voices echo in their memories for some time to come.”
Wirral Liberal Democrat leader Phil Gilchrist sounded a note of caution: "This partial climb down is welcome as far as it goes.
"A great deal of anger has been generated, a lot of anxiety caused to shoppers and shopkeepers.
"This idea was sneaked out - we have to remain vigilant in case the council tries something else on."