PLANS to charge for parking at coastal locations across Wirral have been scrapped.

If approved, motorists would have been charged £1 an hour, £2 all day and £20 for overnight parking at Kings Parade and Coastal Drive in New Brighton / Wallasey, the Gunsite in Leasowe, the Derby Pool in New Brighton, North Parade in Hoylake and South Parade in West Kirby.

A public consultation was held on the controversial proposals, drawn up in a bid to help the authority make up a £61m budget shortfall.

Thousands of people signed petitions against the proposal and a public meeting to discuss the scheme took place in Hoylake last month.

Council leader Phil Davies has today announced the parking charge proposal will be dropped.

Cllr Davies said: "As part of Wirral's efforts to find funding solutions for local services, Council officers took forward proposals to introduce new parking charges.

"Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to speak to local residents, listen to the views of local community groups and meet with visitors enjoying the fine weather in New Brighton and West Kirby. 

"Our coastal communities are an important part of our visitor economy, but are also residential neighbourhoods in their own right.

"It is important that when we make decisions which affect these towns and impact on the life of local residents, we think about the wider implications.

"I understand, nobody likes paying new charges, even though we need to find ways to raise revenue for local services it is clear to me these current proposals just do not work. 

"I understand the intention was not to 'penalise' local residents or to cause more parking problems in adjacent streets – but that is what these proposals risk doing.  

"Residents told me how concerned they were, and it is our duty to take the correct actions. 

"It was clear to me what action we need to take. 

"Today, I have asked the officers to withdraw the current proposals forthwith, which I am sure local residents will agree is the sensible thing to do. 

"I want to thank all the people who I have spoken to, and all those who made their opinions known through the consultation process.

"While I'm pleased we have listened to residents' views on this issue, the stark reality remains Wirral Council is chronically underfunded.

"We have to continue to find ways to be more commercial and raise additional income to fund local services.

"We have to identify income to replace the cuts we already face and the Tory Government’s threat to end any central government revenue funding from 2020 onwards.

"I know residents understand and sympathise with this challenge, but these proposals were not the way to address this."

Among those welcoming the news is Nick Begley, proprietor of West Kirby business Avantgade. 

He told the Globe: "The shops and businesses of West Kirby are very relieved that Wirral borough council as dropped the idea of parking charges on its seafront.

"Together with local residents we fought this idea as we felt it would seriously impact on our community.

"As well as being supported by local residents we have many customers and visitors who live out of the area without whom are shops and businesses would struggle to survive." 

Cllr Ian Lewis, leader of Wirral's Conservative Group said: "For the second time in less than two years, Cllr Davies has been forced to scrap plans for parking charges put forward by his own cabinet. 

"While there will be thousands of residents who will be relieved that he has finally acted, there are now questions as to why Cllr Davies ever allowed this latest scheme to get this far.

"The position of his cabinet member for Highways is also now in question, as are the parking charges in our country parks – if Cllr Davies is to be consistent, both must go."

Cllr Phil Gilchrist, leader of Wirral's Liberal Democrats added: "This Council staggers from pillar to post. At least this time the decision is right, preventing chaos in the side streets of West Kirby.

"The charges at Eastham and other parks should be dropped too!

"Anyone with an open mind will see a largely empty car park at Eastham, with cars displaced all round the area, reducing access to a single line of traffic.

"It's caused chaos and misery for local people, It’s brought in miserable sums,

"It's upset local businesses doing their bit for tourism..

"In fact in April and May the machines just took an average of £91 a day."