Surrey's David Hodge drops on-street parking charges

The new leader of Surrey County Council has dropped the controversial on-street parking charges that had provoked a storm of protest.

Councillor David Hodge said the policy had proved "enormously unpopular" and would "end today".

Instead, Mr Hodge said local committees would be given freedom to decide on whether to introduce charges.

Mr Hodge, who replaced Dr Andrew Povey, made the announcement as he unveiled his cabinet.

He said: "I believe we should be strong enough to recognise when we have got something wrong.

"Our county council needs a new approach - one that recognises that the best decisions are made when everyone's views are considered carefully.

"One that recognises that we will be more effective if we work together and one that recognises that those best placed to decide should be given the freedom to do so."

The county council had identified about 3,500 on-street parking spaces where charges could be implemented.

More than 26,000 people signed a petition on the council's website against the proposal.

Councillor Hazel Watson, the leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, said: "I am delighted that this half-baked policy has been abandoned.

"However, it has taken too long for the Tory administration to admit their policy would not work."

Dr Povey said last month he would be standing down to pursue his business interests.

He said his relationship with Mr Hodge had become strained and they were "seeing things differently".

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