Opposition councillors say a 20-minute free parking scheme is a U-turn by the Conservative administration.

Yesterday Harrow Borough Council announced it would introduce free on-street parking for 20 minutes across the borough as part of this year’s budget.

Ticket machines across the borough will be updated district by district over the next three to four months and will include keypad for motorists to input their car registration to get their free 20 minutes.

Following the announcement Labour councillor Sachin Shah said : “This is just a political move by the Conservative administration which shows they agreed with our original free parking scheme.

“The administration saw they were losing votes and they were on the wrong side with their decision to scrap the scheme last year. This is a massive U-turn.

“The Labour group brought this in to back businesses, then the Conservative group scrapped it and now are taking credit for bringing it back.”

The Independent Labour group which implemented the original scheme last year also believe there has been a U-turn from the council.

Leader of the group Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar, said: “Tories have been forced to give in by our sustained, successful and effective campaign, with the power and help of residents and traders.

“I want to thank all those businesses and residents who supported the scheme when I pioneered the idea and implemented the trial in Rayners Lane. “It has been a hard campaign to support the local residents and businesses in Harrow but it was worth it.

“There was no need to cause distress by cancelling the trial in Rayners Lane but we are pleased that, at last, the Conservative administration has listened to Independent Labour Group, businesses and residents.”

Speaking to the Harrow Times Councillor Susan Hall said: “We have never been against the proposals for 20 minute parking, but what we were against was a scheme which would cost the council and the borough money.

“We have to remember this is not our money, but the resident’s money and we have to make sure we do not waste it.

“This is good value for the council but also the residents and shop keepers. We have listened to people and we have made sure this scheme is affordable for the council.”

According the administration many of the borough’s ticket machines are ten years old and with investment on improvements money will be saved on maintenance costs in the long term.

Papers on the budget will be discussed by councillors at the council cabinet meeting next week on Thursday February 13 from 6.30pm.