A petition has been started against council plans to introduce fees to a free car park in Swanscombe.

Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council has said it will be implementing a 12-month trial where motorists will be charged to use the Grove Car Park.

The council said the car park has been "misused" for some time creating problems for the people using the High Street, for which it was originally intended.

The council said: "The demand for parking now outstrips the provision available which has resulted in people struggling to get around the car park (both in vehicles and on foot).

"In an attempt to manage the situation for the whole community and not one or more sections of users, and to try and deter commuter parking and increase the opportunity for users of the shops the town council have taken the difficult decision to trial a Pay and Display scheme for the car park."

From the start of April, charges are scheduled to be introduced which will have the first two hours free, £2 for two to four hours and no parking for over four hours.

A petition, started by Swanscombe Labour Group, has 156 people calling on the council to keep the car park free.

In a statement on the petition page, a group spokesman said: "The Grove Car Park in Swanscombe has always been free for local people to use.

"By keeping it free it helps our local shops thrive and helps ease congestion on our local residential streets."

The group plans to present the petition to the Mayor of Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council on March 15.

The Council said: "Whilst aware that this change will not be to everyone’s liking we wanted to assure you that the charges being introduced are reasonable and that the purpose of this is not to generate income.

"All monies coming from the car park will be used to maintain the facility and to cover the cost of the management and enforcement of the parking."

The scheme will be reviewed after a year and comments can be left on the council website.