ANGRY traders on a Chester street have started a petition urging the council to scrap its plan to charge people to park at the roadside.

A dozen business owners – and one toddler – braved the freezing temperatures on Brook Street today (Wednesday, February 28) in a show of solidarity.

Currently shoppers can park free of charge for up to an hour but under Cheshire West and Chester Council’s new parking strategy they will soon have to shell out £1.

The authority claims its wider plan is aimed at supporting businesses, managing demand for parking and making it more accessible.

But Brook Street traders say on-street parking charges could ruin one of the city’s most diverse shopping streets.

One of the men behind the petition, which already has the signatures of 55 businesses on the street, is Stewart Tattersall who has owned Dee Sports since 1978.

He told the Standard: “This will definitely put people off coming here. It will hit all of us hard.”

Fellow organiser John Kenyon, chairman of the Friends of Brook Street traders group, added: “This will have a very negative impact on what is a unique street in Chester.

“I’m sympathetic with the council. They have to increase their revenue when cuts are being made by the government but penalising small start-up businesses is not the way to do it.”

The pair aim to have petitions in a number of shops where customers will be encouraged to sign up.

Ali Karabacak, who runs Istanbul BBQ, said he had recently visited Haringey in London which has a comparable mix of independent businesses.

A similar parking strategy had come at a huge cost to local businesses and he fears the same thing could happen in Brook Street.

He added: “We are hopeful we can change the council’s mind on this – we know it’s not them, it’s down to central government cuts and they need to make money.”

This newspaper has previously spoken to at least eight other business owners on the street, all of whom fear for their futures if on-street parking charges are brought in.

Among them are Voytek Pachucy, who opened Polish dumpling cafe Pierogi 10 months ago with wife Katarzyna and daughter Hanna, aged three-and-a-half.

“It’s ridiculous!” he said. “It will definitely be bad for business. Free parking encourages people to come to the street.”

As part of the council’s new strategy it also plans to scrap the ‘Free after 3’ parking scheme in the city centre.

An announcement on exactly when the changes will be introduced is expected shortly. It was envisaged they would come into effect by the end of March.