OUR campaign to Keep City Parking Free has now been supported by more than 4,000 people.

Exactly two weeks ago today we launched our campaign urging Newport City Council to reverse its decision to axe two hours’ free parking in its city centre car parks.

Since then traders have expressed their concerns about the plans on a daily basis, explaining that this is one blow too many in these tough economic times.

The only response we have had from the council is a statement from cabinet member for infrastructure Ken Critchley, describing the scheme as “unsustainable”.

He said: “Free parking costs the council almost £1 million a year, which is no longer sustainable at a time when central budgets are facing significant cuts and we face a funding gap next year of £8 million.

“To continue to offer free parking would adversely impact on other services such as street cleaning, waste collection and road repairs.”

However, as we explained last week, these figures don’t quite stack up.

The council calculates the £1 million lost revenue figure by using figures from 2010 prior to two hours’ free parking being brought in, and 2011, the first year of the scheme, and working out the difference in revenue.

But the new charge of £1 for up to three hours is half the price of a two-hour stay in 2010 and a third of the price of a three-hour stay, meaning the council is unlikely to recoup even close to the 2010 figure.

The lack of consultation has particularly upset traders, whose call for a public meeting, published on day two of our campaign, has not been answered.