Plans to end free parking in Dursley, Nailsworth, Wotton-under-Edge and Stratford Park in Stroud have officially been dropped by the district council.

“After carefully considering the views of the public, parish and town councils and businesses, Stroud District Council is stopping proposals to charge for car parking,” announced the council’s leader Doina Cornell in a statement released today.

“We have listened to concerns and it has become clear during the past months that high street traders face a rapidly changing commercial challenge from a wide range of online services.”

“I am keen to continue dialogue with traders and councils about these ongoing challenges for town centres.”

The plans, which were first floated by the council earlier in the year, had been effectively killed off last week after Stroud Labour announced its councillors would think again on the issue.

This left the proposals without the backing of any political party on the council.

But today’s statement represents the formal abandonment of the plans by Stroud District Council, after it wrapped up a consultation at the end of July.

Among those campaigning against charges was Nailsworth mayor Jonathan Duckworth, who had rallied residents, councillors, and traders in the town against the proposals.

Council officers had made the recommendations for new charges off the back of a report by consultants Arup that suggested charges could free up parking spaces for shoppers.

But Nailsworth’s town council and chamber of trade argued the report was flawed, conducting their own research to back up their claim charges would only hurt businesses.

Mayor Duckworth welcomed cllr Cornell’s statement and her offer to work with towns, parishes and businesses in the Stroud district on parking

He said: “We will talk to Stroud District Council but we did ask to meet with them back in December and if they had agreed to do that then we would have avoided this farce altogether”

“It’s not just the district council who have wasted a huge amount of time and energy on this matter - town and parish councils have had to spend time fighting this.

“What we should have been focussing on is keeping our towns and parishes thriving.”