London Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson slams parking charges in Wembley shopping parade

Tory politican speaks out against charges that are driving shoppers away from Preston Road

London Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson has described pay and display charges in Preston Road as ‘ridiculous’ during a visit to the shopping parade this morning.

The Conservative politician also backed traders who are calling for the introduction of 30 minutes free parking. Mr Johnson spoke out during a whistle-tour stop in the borough to launch his election campaign, ‘Back Boris.’

He hit out at the Labour-run council over the charges, implemented earlier this year which traders claim have driven shoppers away.

He told the Times: “The labour parking scheme is ridiculous, these are exactly the kind of people we need to be supporting which is why I want to suggest an half an hour for free on this street.

“It’s clearly affecting these businesses, other borough’s have tried to do similar things and failed you only have to look at what happened in Westminster and see that it doesn’t always work.”

The Times has been closely following the troubles of traders after the council introduced pay and display charges in Preston Road, Bridge Road and East Lane in January.

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The council said they had installed the meters to eliminate any disparities with other shopping areas in the borough.

Shoppers are now forced to pay 60p for 20 minutes or �2.40 for an hour with businesses reporting a fall in trade.Mr Johnson added: “Part of my plan is to support all local business and ensure that traders in outer London boroughs such as this are able to survive as it is these kind of people who are at the forefront of the community.

“Businesses need all the help they can get especially in areas like this and we have to cut out needless expenditure.”

Cllr Reg Colwill, conservative councillor for Kenton who joined Mr Johnson also slammed the charges.

He said: “Everybody is noticing the problem, half an hour for free I think will work, and people are not going to pay 60p for just buying a pint of milk or packet of cigarettes.

“It’s killing the area and needs to be stopped before it’s too late.”

Among the shops Mr Johnson visited included Rushton Pharmacy where manager, Mamos Bharania claimed the area was in a state of decline.

He said: “It’s so sad, we are a community street but people will not come here when they have to be on edge about charges all the time.

“Unless there is a strong review, it will soon be too late, the damage will have been done and the local shopping street will be finished, people will just defect to Tesco or Asda because they have no other choice.”

Today marked the start of Mr Johnson’s election campaign before the final vote on May 3 and he also spoke about his ‘nine-point’ plan for Greater London.

The plan includes putting 1,000 more police on the street to reduce crime and creating 200,000 jobs over the next four years.

He added: “I also want to upgrade the metropolitan line which I think will improve transport links for local people and increase footfall to the area.”