BUSINESSES in Dedham are being urged to challenge the rates they pay to Colchester Council after it introduced controversial parking charges.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) launched the campaign after the parking charges were introduced at the Duck Pond and Mill Lane car parks.

Essex FSB chairman David Miles said: “If Dedham’s businesses can demonstrate a fall in receipts after the introduction of parking charges, the Valuation Office Agency may pick up their case. The greater the number of appellants, the greater the prospect of the Valuation Office Agency considering the claim seriously.

Martin Hunt, the Colchester councillor responsible for street and waste services, said: “I can’t see the logic for their arguments. We were very generous with our free business permits we have given them. If they don’t want them, we will take them back.”

Businesses in the village have each been given two free season tickets under the new parking arrangements.

Visitors have to pay up to £4 a day to use the car parks. Parking for up to an hour is free, but it costs £1 for up to two hours and £2 for up to four hours.

Profits from the car parks are to be split between Colchester and Dedham councils, with cash spent on improving the car parks.