A ‘HORRIFIED’ town council has launched a petition opposing plans to axe free parking in the town.

Witham Town Council hit out at the proposals from the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP).

It is looking to launch a new parking system across the district which could see three parking spots become pay and display.

Under the proposals, free parking in Newland Street could be axed.

Both The Causeway and Bocking End, in Braintree, could also lose free parking.

Witham Town councillors have already dubbed the plans a “non-starter” and requested a meeting with the North Essex Parking Partnership to discuss the proposal and their concerns.

The town council has now launched a petition against the plans.

Braintree and Witham Times: Site - Newland Street in WithamSite - Newland Street in Witham (Image: Public)

It argues that because the use of the spaces will be no different, charging will do nothing to reduce congestion or improve air quality.

The town council has raised concerns access to services will be adversely affected, as will be the "economic vitality and vibrancy" of the town centre and Newland Street.

I also says the electronic payment system will hit people who can not pay that way.

The North Essex Parking Partnership previously stressed the proposals were “not to generate income but to manage parking and improve traffic flow”.

“While revenue from paid parking may help cover the increasing costs of patrol and enforcement, any surplus is reinvested back into essential traffic management initiatives,” a spokesman added.

The scheme is now set to go to formal consultation.

The town council is writing to Braintree Council's financial scrutiny panel to query their agreement with the North Essex Parking Partnership.

The petition has also been launched.

Town council leader Phil Barlow said “Together with many of our residents, the council was horrified by this proposal.

“Our response is to hold the partnership to account and the petition is launched to enable our residents to reinforce our decision.”

To view the petition or sign, visit witham.gov.uk/parking-petition or visit the town’s information centre at the town hall before March 22.