A PLEA by traders for Dudley Council to run a pilot one day a week free parking to boost trade in Halesowen has been refused.

But campaigners have vowed to fight on and are hoping to enlist support from councillors and the town’s MP.

Members of Halesowen Chamber of Trade are launching a petition for businesses and shoppers to sign to pressure the council into a u-turn.

The chamber wrote to its chief executive, John Polychronakis, last November asking for a pilot scheme to be run in Halesowen to see what impact it had for businesses in the town.

But his refusal on grounds of affordability was greeted with disappointment and defiance when it was reported to last week’s chamber meeting.

Mr Polychronakis replied saying: “Clearly, to trial any such pilot as you suggest in Halesowen would, in an ideal world, be an attractive experiment in terms of its impact on trade.

“However, I am sure you will also appreciate that the council could not simply operate this trial in one area and our investigations have shown that the impact of such an initiative on our budgets on a borough wide basis is something that we would find difficult in the current climate.

But chamber chairman Steve Fiztpatrick said it should be possible to run a trial in one town to measure its impact.

He said: “During the week, the car parks are half empty so the council isn’t getting the revenue anyway. This would boost the number of people using the shops and boost the local economy.”

Members pointed to other towns and neighbouring Wyre Forest, where such schemes are proving successful.

Businessman Tony Billingham said he had written to the leader of the council Councillor David Sparks, who had passed the request to the cabinet member for transport Cllr Khurshid Ahmed, from whom he was waiting a reply.