PEOPLE who live or work in Midsomer Norton are urged to sign a petition in an attempt to block parking charges which are feared will “decimate” the town centre.

Businessman Sean Dudden wants as many people in the town to put their name to it as possible in the hope the Government will step in and block it.

He has so far gained guidance from North Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and hopes to secure a House of Commons debate on the proposal he claims has no public support.

Mr Dudden, who runs Dustland Fairytale Antiques in Midsomer Norton High Street, said: “I would like 10,000 signatures to be honest and that is only about 25 per cent of the population, but a few thousand would be better than nothing. 

“About 95 per cent of the town is against this and there’s only a small percentage who think this is a good idea. Everyone is quite disgusted and dismayed about it and there is a strong feeling around the town.

“Over the next week I’m going to be handing these out to business and the plan is, by August, to have enough signatures to take to the House of Commons - there is no harm in trying.”

Bath and North East Somerset Council have approved plans to end free parking in Midsomer Norton, Keynsham and Radstock car parks as part of its bid to balance its books. Charges could be in place by October and will be based on vehicle emissions, similar to the scheme in Bath.

Mr Dudden added: “I think this is important because it’s about the future of our town and when parking charges are introduced, it can decimate high streets and we need to stop the rot before it sets in.

“If people want to stop it, they need to get on board - a lackadaisical approach won’t work.

“The most fundamental thing about this is democracy; the MP and the town council are united against this.”

Mr Dudden contacted Jacob Rees Mogg to ask for support on the matter, who said in response: “Thank you for your correspondence regarding your petition against the introduction of parking charges in Midsomer Norton by Bath and North East Somerset Council.

“The role of MP is normally to present petitions to the relevant authority rather than signing them - however, as you will likely already be aware, you will need to gather a large number of signatories in order for it to be useful to the cause. I would suggest sharing the petition on social media to see if you can gain more support.

“I have made representations on your behalf to the chief operating office at B&NES Council and will write to you again once I have received a response.”

The petition states that locals are “concerned about the potential implications” of the introduction of parking charges in Midsomer Norton, particularly upon local businesses.

It adds: “Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable house ask his majesty’s government to consider the opinions of local residents and business in this regard.”