NEWPORT County fans are among more than 1,200 people to back our “Keep City Parking Free” campaign in its first few days.

Exiles supporters on their way to watch the Black and Ambers beat Gateshead 3-1 on Saturday were only too pleased to support our cause.

They join shoppers and traders who say the council’s decision to scrap its two-hour free parking scheme in the new year will drive away what little trade they get.

Colin Barrows, 74, of Raglan, says ending the scheme would deter people like him from coming to the city centre, while Len Barrington, 73, said keeping it would keep footfall up and attract more businesses, which is exactly what the city needs.

Ian Hopkins, 44, a former operations manager at Cwmbran Shopping, said the free parking there was an “immense draw” for shoppers, adding: “It’s dead money to people – people don’t like paying for parking.”

Chris Burrows, 56, of Caerleon said he would rather visit Cwmbran if charges were re-introduced in Newport, while Robert Pearse, 52, agreed it was a backward step. Paul Green, 62, said: “It’s a daft decision, I think they (the council) have made a mistake and they should have consulted on it.”

“They should have free parking all the time, when Cwmbran did, Newport should have followed.”

Ken Walker, 66, said: “Newport council are hopeless.

Newport councillors should go to Cwmbran and have a look at the good the free parking is doing there.” Gareth Booth said: “I think Newport is dying on its feet and anything that’s going to encourage people into the town centre has got to be a good thing. It will knock the council’s profit in the car parks but maybe that’s a hit they need to be prepared to take.”

Helen Hayward, 60, of Tintern, said she prefers to travel to Cribbs Causeway in Bristol where parking is free, while Claire Mackerness , 30, of Pontypool, said the introduction of parking fees in Newport would put her off visiting.

Lifelong County fan Cath Clarke, 63, who now lives in Glynneath, said she would be more encouraged to shop in Newport after games if parking remained free, adding: “It will get more people using the shops and city centre and will improve everything.”