THE petition opposing new on-street parking meters in Bridport has now reached 5,000 signatures.

And opponents of the scheme are hoping to enlist MP Oliver Letwin’s help when they meet him tomorrow, September 13. They will also be meeting with Matthew Piles, traffic manager for Dorset County Council – and they want answers from him.

Representatives from the market and Bridport Business Chamber will be meeting Mr Letwin.

Market traders’ spokesman Roy Gregory said: “We had 4,000 signatures by the end of Saturday and I have been contacting the district councillors to enlist their help.

“I would like to come away from the meeting with Oliver Letwin with him saying we have a valid point of view.

“And we want answers from Mr Piles as to how he thinks parking meters will make Bridport nicer and safer and so on.

“We also want assurances that having consulted the town, they will actually listen to what we have to say.”

Mr Gregory said if necessary, campaigners were willing to print off letters and get people who had signed the petition to send them.

Bridport Town Council has now drafted its official response to the idea of charging and that will go before the full council next week when the public will also have a chance to have its say.

Town council leader Coun Sarah Williams said: “The plans committee felt very strongly that this proposal should be opposed and its recommendation will now go forward to the full town council meeting on September 17 at 7pm in the Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public and there is an opportunity, at the start of the meeting, for members of the public to raise any other issues in relation to this item or any other business on the agenda.”

Matthew Piles, Dorset County Council’s traffic manager, said: “Dorset County Council is in the initial stage of a consultation and we want a two-way conversation with the town.

“We’re investigating the roll out for Bridport, Lyme Regis and Blandford as part of an on-street parking programme for Dorset.

“We have not purchased meters for these towns and we are not dictating to the town about parking.

“However, it is widely recognised that at certain times there is congestion and on-street parking can be used as a tool to help reduce this.

“Free limited parking is costly in terms of the time staff spend enforcing illegal parking, using a pay and display scheme will streamline the service and create better value for money.”

Bridport town councillors’ reasons for opposing the scheme are: l It would have a detrimental impact on the market, with the bays currently used by market traders.

l It would deter people from coming into the town centre and impact on the local economy l It would add unnecessary street furniture l The committee asked for evidence of where it had been introduced successfully. It wants to a full feasibility study of how the proposal would affect Bridport l The committee was not aware of anybody locally who was in favour.

l The proposal would still be a cost to the county council, with the upkeep of the meters and the continued need for wardens.