Stroud Labour Party have called for a rethink on new parking charges for the district, leaving an ongoing consultation without political support.

In a statement released last night, district councillor Doina Cornell, who leads Stroud District Council, has announced Labour councillors will 'think again' about ending free parking in Dursley, Wotton-under-Edge and Nailsworth, as well as Stratford Park in Stroud.

She has called for a halt to her council's car parking consultation, triggered by a report proposing charges by consultants Arup, to allow the council to undertake a 'thorough review' across all wards.

“The strength of feeling by local people and traders is something we as councillors must listen to," said Cllr Cornell (Dursley, Lab).

"Many of us Labour councillors represent wards in these towns and we are all in agreement we need to think again."

"What has become clear over the public consultation period is that the council cannot just consider car park charging in isolation from other issues concerning the vibrancy and life of our village and town centres.

"Therefore I am calling for a thorough review of all car parking arrangements in the district, in the towns, including Stroud, Stonehouse and Painswick, as well as surrounding villages.

"However, as a result of the huge cuts in funding faced by the council, the challenges of how and who pays for car parking, maintenance and enforcement will not go away. Nor will the issue of increasing traffic congestion in our towns and the impact that has on our environment and our well being.

A statement from Nailsworth Town Council, which campaigned extensively against the introduction of the charges in the town, said that it was delighted by the news.

"Nailsworth Town Council is delighted that the proposal to introduce car park charges will likely be withdrawn by SDC.

"The Council is willing to work with SDC and are not afraid of difficult decisions, as long as these are based on solid evidence."

Jonathan Duckworth, Mayor of Nailsworth said "We carried out research that debunked the report from ARUP and showed that SDC's proposal was built on sand.

"It is a shame that we had to spend so much time and effort defending our town from such a flawed proposal. We are so proud to have had all of Nailsworth alongside us."

Other parties in the Stroud district have also welcomed Labour's rethink, meaning the parking charge review no longer has any political support in the chamber.

Conservatives, who have been visiting car parks to collect signatures in opposition to charges, were jubilant at the news.

“This is a humiliating U-turn from Labour,” Nigel Cooper, leader of the Conservatives on SDC, told the SNJ.

“And it’s a victory for towns like Nailsworth.”

Equal triumph will be seen in Wotton-under-Edge, which submitted a petition with around 1000 signatures to the council opposing parking charges, suggested George Butcher, a Liberal Democrat councillor for the town.

“This news will no doubt be welcomed by many in Wotton - though there are a lot of questions as to how this announcement was made,” he said, referring to how news of Labour’s rethink came midway through a council meeting via the SNJ.

Labour’s governing partner at Ebley Mill - the Greens - also welcomed cllr Cornell's announcement.

"I am delighted that the Labour councillors are now planning to 'think again' on car parking charges,” said Green leader councillor Martin Whiteside.

“Within the cooperative alliance, Greens have been encouraging an approach based on listening to local communities and finding ways to support vibrant high streets while also tackling issues like congestion, air pollution, safe walking and cycling.  

“We should be working in partnership with local town councils and traders to keep our market towns great. It is good to see common sense prevail."