PARENTS will be denied the opportunity to buy a discounted permit despite a council being slated for axing free parking for school drop-offs.

Maldon District Council provided free parking twice a day in its car parks to parents of pupils at St Francis Primary, Maldon Court Preparatory School and Watership Downs Nursery School.

The council has now told parents it is withdrawing the free permits as it falls outside its new ‘user pays’ policy.

The change was due to come into effect from May 1 with parents told they could continue to park if they paid the £580 annual permit charge.

Council officers put forward a proposal to create a new £200 permit exclusively for parents.

But councillors on the community services committee rejected the suggestion at a meeting last week.

Now parents will be forced to choose between paying for the annual permit or paying £1 for every 30 minute visit to the car park.

Nick Jones, whose sons Alex and Harry attend Maldon Court Preparatory School in Silver Street, attended the meeting and spoke in favour of the proposal.

Mr Jones, 46, of Chipping Hill, Witham, said he was disappointed councillors had voted against the scheme.

He said: “The result is that parents of all schools will have to pay twice a day.

“It is likely that most parents will choose not to pay the £2 a day fee and drop and run in the streets near the schools.

“All are now deeply concerned over child and resident safety. The council has clearly put profit over child safety.”

Mr Jones also rebuffed claims made by councillors about the level of consultation over the removal of the free parking and suggestions parents were abusing the system.

Richard Holmes director for community services, said: “The committee considered the proposal to create a new type of parking permit for these times.

“However, the Committee resolved that the creation of such a permit would contravene the policy of fairness in the current parking charges system.

“The decision was made not to support the creation of a new type of parking permit at this time.”

Mr Holmes added: “The committee reflected upon the parking review recently undertaken and felt the existing policy to charge all users was sound and there would be limited value in introducing a permit scheme.

“In addition to this, members were concerned this would set a precedent to other users who may ask for concessions.

“The council’s car parks have capacity to meet the needs of parents delivering and collecting children from school and I would urge motorists to continue to use them, pay a fair charge and not park inappropriately on the streets.”