PLANS to scrap free-of-charge parking across north Essex with some streets expected to raise more than £20,000 extra are to be scrutinised by a county council panel.

The North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) is looking to implement a new parking system across the county.

The scheme outlines sites in Colchester, Braintree, Witham, Halstead, Epping Forest and Harlow which could see free parking spots replaced with pay and display.

In Braintree and Witham, free parking in The Causeway, Bocking End and Newland Street could be axed.

Graham Butland who represents Braintree Council on NEPP said the decision is to be scrutinised after county councils representing areas in Braintree district called the matter in.

He echoed concerns the plans had been made with “virtually no consultation at all”.

Mr Butland said: “I made several comments expressing concerns that there been little or virtually no consultation at all.

“Either with the local county councillors, and on-street parking is a county council issue, but neither also with our local ward councillors and town parish councils. That should be done.”

He added: “I am in little doubt about the amount of angst it has caused in all areas at the possibility of bringing in charges.

“It is possible to control parking without bringing in charges. It is difficult to police it because unless someone is there when the person arrives when they go you can’t do it.”

A formal consultation period is yet to open on the proposals.

However, the potential scheme has been met with severe backlash.

Witham Town councillors have dubbed the plans a “non-starter” and the town council launched a petition to combat the proposals.

Residents also expressed their anger and concerns over the potential loss of the free parking zones.

Emma Pearson said Witham’s High Street “would die”, while Tracey Paston said it would lead to people not using the town centres.

Rules dictate that if following a call-in meeting a scrutiny committee remains concerned about it, then it may refer it back to the NEPP joint committee for reconsideration, setting out in writing the nature of its concerns.

If referred back to the committee for reconsideration the joint committee will have a further seven working days to consider whether to amend the original decision or revise the original action.