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A Woodford Green business owner is calling for free or cheaper parking to save shops and has won the backing of MP Iain Duncan Smith.

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Tan Dhillon, owner of The Village Bookshop in High Road, Woodford Green, wants to have 30 minutes free parking in paid parking bays along the road.

He believes Redbridge Council could lift restrictions after 9.30am once commuters have gone to work.

In an emailed appeal to council leader Cllr Keith Prince, Mr Dhillon said: “Most customers now go to out of town shopping centres or supermarkets because they offer free parking and ease of access.

“I am asking you to please lead the way and other councils across the UK can follow Redbridge’s lead and save the Great British high street from extinction.”

Iain Duncan Smith, the MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, has also written to Cllr Prince expressing his support for the campaign.

He said: “The shops on this road are clearly suffering because it is very difficult for people to park around here.

“The ticket machine is also a long walk away if you park on High Elms or one of those back roads.”

The council leader and Monkhams ward councillors Linda Huggett, Jim O’Shea and Michael Stark, visited the shop on Saturday to discuss parking options.

Cllr O’Shea agreed with a compromise solution, also suggested by Mr Dhillon, of extending the current charge of 30p for 15 minutes to half an hour.

He said: “If you go into a bookshop, you’re going to be there for longer than fifteen minutes.

“Where the parking meters are placed, if it’s not working, you have got to find another one and your 15 minutes is up.

“They’re looking at putting in another parking meter to shorten the time between getting to the shops and leaving the car.”

“I think 30p for half an hour is maybe the answer.”

Mr Dhillon will now raise the issue with area two councillors at their meeting next month.

Redbridge Council did not respond to inquiries.

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