A councillor who collected more than 2,000 signatures for 20-minutes free parking in a car park says charges drive shoppers away from high streets.

UKIP Councillor Stanley Sheinwald handed in the petition to Harrow Borough Council’s cabinet to call for 20-miniutes free parking to be introduced at the Grimsdyke car park in Hatch End.

Parking was previously free, but pay and display machines and a charge of 20p per hour was introduced in July last year.

Shopkeepers joined the campaign, fearing people would avoid paying 20p to run short errands in the shopping street nearby.

Cllr Sheinwald said: “The council is making it harder for people to visit Hatch End. People will think ‘why would I want to go there?’.

“Instead of supporting them they are crippling the small shopkeeper.

“I think the petition has had a great response and shows people are concerned about the parking situation in Hatch End.

“The problem is that people don’t want to pay for parking when they haven’t had to before. Even with it at 20p, small businesses have been hit.

“I think there should be 20 minutes free parking in all car parks in the borough.”

Earlier this year, Harrow Borough Council's ruling Conservative group announced it would introduce 20-minutes' free on-street parking across the borough.

The borough’s machines are having keypads installed so drivers can enter their registration number to prevent the scheme from being abused.

The first machines offering the free parking went live in Rayners Lane earlier this month.

A Harrow Council spokeswoman said a small charge of 20p an hour was introduced in Grimsdyke car park in July last year to curb an issue with commuter parking and free up more spaces for people to park short term.

She added the council was confident it had made it easier for people to park within walking distance of local shops as more spaces are available for them to do so.