A MASSIVE backlash against the introduction of parking charges in New Brighton has led to the proposal being scrapped.

An online petition had gathered 3,500 names calling for the reversal of a decision by Wirral Council to introduce pay & display at Fort Perch Rock car park.

Campaigners said charges would drive business away, deter day trippers leave the path open for Marine Point businesses like Morrisons, Bubbles and Travelodge to introduce charges in their respective car parks without opposition.

Following meetings with business leaders and traders, council Leader Phil Davies announced he has blocked the proposals.

He said: “Cllr Pat Hackett, our cabinet member for the Economy, has been meeting with traders and business leaders in New Brighton to discuss the proposals, and they made a powerful case for not proceeding.

“When we looked at the plan and the possible impact on parking and tourism across the whole of the resort, I made the decision to stop the proposal.

“The proposals had been discussed as part of last year’s Budget Consultation options but we can make the appropriate savings elsewhere with minimal impact on our budget.

‘New Brighton plays an important role in meeting Wirral’s pledges to attract enterprise, tourism and investment over the next five years.

“Our borough has seen the highest growth in tourism and visitors in the local area, and we will support the efforts of local businesses and the council's partners to continue the development of New Brighton as a destination."

Tony Hurst, chairman of the RESORT group of seafront traders in New Brighton, said: "On behalf of the seafront traders, we appreciate that the council have listened to the various submissions and made this sensible decision.

"New Brighton has made great progress in recent years and we look forward to continued success and cooperation."

A statement on the petition website said: "The inevitable reduction in visitors will reduce footfall and jeopardise all retail outlets, new and established local businesses, and national high street names.

"All of these have invested heavily in the regeneration of New Brighton, creating many local jobs, and rely on increasing visitor numbers to survive in the early years, and secure a viable future.

"It is not possible to turn around 50 years of decline in less than five years.”

Globe writer Peter Grant raised the issue in his Granty's Inferno column last week.

He said: "I read a quote from this time last year by New Brighton regeneration councillor Pat Hackett about car parking fees in the area.

"With all the gusto of Mrs Thatcher's memorable quote 'this lady’s not for turning' affable Pat declared: 'The fact that parking is free makes New Brighton a big attraction. We don't want to scare people away just at a time when things are starting to pick up.'

"Somewhere along the road he has made a three-point turn and is now stuck in reverse.

"Politicians should not be frightened to be honest with people. If you’re stuck between a Perch Rock and a hard place just say it, don’t wheel out politicians' retreat-speak."