CELEBRITIES Ben Miller and Emma Samms have added their voices to the campaign to keep Nailsworth parking-charge free.

Stroud District Council is looking to impose charges on the seven car parks it owns within the town, as well as at locations in Dursley, Stratford Park and Wotton-under-Edge.

Worried Nailsworth traders say this could be the thin end of the wedge for some of them. It’s a concern actor and comedian Ben Miller – a fan of the town - backs to the hilt.

“Let’s see,” he told the campaign. “Nailsworth is home to some of the finest independent shops in the Cotswolds. Those shops are facing the toughest trading conditions in living memory. What can we do to help? I know, introduce parking charges!”

Actress Emma Samms is also a regular visitor. “The Decline of the High Street is a headline we see often these days. Yet Nailsworth is still a thriving, busy town. People actually do their shopping there. But why? Is it because there are numerous charming and unique shops and restaurants or is it because there is free parking?

“I’d say both. I know that when I make the choice of where to go for lunch, that the quality of the restaurant and the ease of getting there both play an important part in my decision.

“If I have an hour or two free to have a wander around the shops, then I’m going to feel more comfortable, more at home without the unwelcoming chore of buying a ticket and then the worry of the ticket expiring before I return to my car.

“These are subtle, emotional choices that we make when we decide where and how to spend our money,” she added. “The free parking of Nailsworth offers far more to me than saving a couple of quid on a parking ticket.

“Nailsworth is special. It’s getting it right. Please don’t change that.”

Nailsworth Town Council and Nailsworth Chamber of Trade are holding a joint public meeting about the issue at Nailsworth Town Hall at 6.30pm tomorrow, Tuesday, July 10; everyone is welcome.

A Stroud District Council spokesman said: “Visitors and shoppers bring economic vitality to towns including Nailsworth and they need to be able to find car parking spaces which are not filled by town centre employees, residents or long stay visitors.

“Research conducted by consultants Arup shows that car parks are at practical capacity in Nailsworth at key times of the day which makes it harder for motorists to find a space.

“The introduction of some of the lowest car parking charges in Gloucestershire should encourage higher turnover rates of a limited number of spaces, and increase the number of spaces for visitors and shoppers to use.

“There is no evidence to suggest that introducing car park charges will lead to a decrease in footfall.”

Stroud District Council’s consultation on parking charges is open for comments until July 29 and can be found on the parking section of the council website at stroud.gov.uk