Braintree and Witham residents have expressed their concern over how free parking spots could be replaced by a pay and display system – branding it an “awful idea”.

The North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) is considering implementing a new pay and display system across the county.

If the new system is put in place, free parking spaces in The Causeway and Bocking End, in Braintree, and Newland Street, in Witham, could be affected.

Drivers can currently park there for free for up to an hour between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday.

Braintree and Witham Times: Location - Newland Street, in WithamLocation - Newland Street, in Witham (Image: Google Maps)

The new pay and display system would cover the same period, with The Causeway and Bocking End seeing a maximum stay of two hours implemented.

Resident Claire Solen is not happy.

She said: “Our town honestly doesn't have enough shops to warrant paying a lot for parking.

“Parking for a maximum of one hour should be free in at least a couple of places around town so if you are just popping in to visit a couple of shops it's worth it.

“This would finish what little is left of the town off, unfortunately, but I'm sure this will go ahead regardless.”

Emma Pearson agrees with the sentiment and believes Witham’s high street would die if it came into effect.

She said: “It’s an appalling idea, we have so many customers that come to Witham from out of town just because they can park in Newland Street.

“They like the convenience and for the less mobile it gives the option to still visit those shops.

“The high street will die if this gets put into force.”

Braintree and Witham Times: Parking spots - Bocking End in BraintreeParking spots - Bocking End in Braintree (Image: Google Maps)

NEPP is considering the system as a way of managing traffic and encouraging appropriate use of off-street car parks for stays.

It would also “reduce the burden” on traffic officers needing to return to check on parked cars.

It is estimated a total of between £140,000 and £190,000 will be made overall, with similar plans outlined for roads in Colchester, Harlow and Epping Forest.

Mo Solomon said: “It’s pure greed without any thought for the already struggling businesses in Witham.”

Tracey Paston believes the system would lead people to not use town centres.

She said: “This will encourage more out of town retail parks use by shoppers who can drive.

“The town centre in Braintree and other towns will be completely gone.

“Shame on councils considering this as people who can't drive need the town centres”