A mass rally is on the horizon as campaigners unite to show their opposition to planned parking charges in Richmond and Bushy Park.

Zac Goldsmith, Justine Greening MP and parliamentary candidate for Twickenham, Deborah Thomas, announced “one big rally” will take place in Richmond Park on Saturday, January 30.

Ms Thomas said organisers wanted to show the strength of feeling about the Royal Parks’ parking fees proposal on a grand scale, “as opposed to two smaller rallies in each park”.

Campaigners, councillors and MPs are all bracing themselves for disappointment, ahead of an official decision from Margaret Hodge, Minister for Culture and Tourism.

In a letter to the Friends of Bushy and Home parks, Ms Hodge defended a £2 car park charge, claimed fees may encourage visitors to use more environmentally friendly forms of travel and suggested it would not lead to an overspill of drivers in nearby roads.

Carol Dukes, chairman of the Hampton Wick Association, said: “Why won’t Margaret Hodge listen to people who know the situation on the ground, or to our elected MPs and councils?

“Why won’t she consider the alternative of a toll?”

Keep Bushy Park Free Alliance member Barry Rideout added: “This is just the same as when they imposed entry charges on museums.

“Visitor numbers went through the floor.

“While that mistake was eventually rectified, it seems they are about to repeat it here.”

Twickenham MP Vince Cable said a thumbs up from Ms Hodge – which is expected to be given imminently – would need parliamentary approval.

Dr Cable pledged to fight any such decision in the House of Commons.

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