Swanscombe residents have started a petition to oppose parking charges due to take effect in April at a community car park.

More than 300 people have signed the petition against the one-year trial at The Grove Car Park announced by Swanscombe and Greenhithe Council.

The plans will introduce a two-pound charge for two to four hours of parking, and a maximum of four hours’ parking allowed.

Claire Pearce, Labour Community Champion for Swanscombe and Greenhithe, started the petition said: “It was a shock to everybody when this Facebook post appeared from the town council.

“It was the first that people had heard of it.”

The charges were announced after a Council consultation of local residents and businesses in 2016. However, Ms Pearce claims it was not extensive enough.

“It was only open for a month and I only know two people who have filled it in.

“We decided to start the petition to see what public feeling was like. Businesses have been really supportive,” she said.

Among the concerns is impracticality for staff members at shops and businesses surrounding the car park, who need to use it while they are at work.

“[Staff] are going to have to keep running out and filling the meter while at work,” Ms Pearce added.

Despite opposition to the plans, businesses and residents are in agreement that something needs to be done about the parking problems in Swanscombe.

Jonathon Hawkes, Labour Leader at Dartford Council said: “There are alternatives to this parking charge.

“We have suggested the Town Council introduce a free residents and local businesses permit scheme.

“They have already ruled that out and I don’t understand why.”

Richard Lees, Swanscombe and Greenhithe Councillor said: “The idea of permits was not dismissed. It was considered.

“Part of the problem is it is a relatively small car park.

“We are just trying to make sure that the car park serves shoppers. People are parking up on the streets to enter the shops and it is dangerous.

“Experience has told them that they won’t get in the car park because it is full of commuters and residents.”

The petition will be presented to the Town Council on Thursday, March 15.