RESIDENTS and traders in Stourbridge's Old Quarter have breathed a sigh of relief after a controversial parking permit plan was given an overwhelming thumbs down.

Dudley Council has now released the results of a three-week consultation which asked people in 45 congested side streets if they would be willing to pay to park outside their homes.

Just 26 per cent of residents were in favour of the trialling the scheme, while 85 per cent said they would not support the plan without a guaranteed parking space - and a massive 90 per cent of respondents said they would not pay £95 (per car) for a permit.

The results mean the scheme, drawn up to help tackle parking problems in the car-clogged side streets, will now be shelved.

Stuart Millward, who runs House of Magic UK shop in Brook Street, said he was "pleased" to hear the council had scrapped the idea which he feared would kill his business.

He said: "It's the most sensible outcome."

Richard Dowen, owner of the Washeteria and Duvet Centre in Clifton Street, was "delighted" at the news, adding: "I think it was a foregone conclusion as soon as they realised the weight of feeling against it. Hopefully it won't rear its ugly head again."

Resident Sarah Billingham who set up a Facebook site to campaign against the scheme, described the news as "excellent" while former ward councillor Nic Barlow (Conservative) said "common sense had prevailed".

Out of 2,041 surveys issued the council received just 712 responses - although ward councillor Barbara Sykes (Labour) had stressed those against the plan need not reply.

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, Dudley’s cabinet member for transport, would not say whether he believed the plan ever had a chance of being approved but stressed it was important to put it, and a similar idea for the Russells Hall area of Dudley, out for a full consultation.

He said calls from residents had prompted the surveys in both Stourbridge and Dudley and he said the schemes would only ever have gone ahead on a 12-month trial basis if more than 80 per cent of people had given support.

He added: "This council is committed to listening and responding to its residents and communities.

”We always said the decision about whether parking permit schemes were introduced would lie with the residents. The communities involved clearly indicated there is little support therefore they will not be introduced."

He said the council would “continue to seek alternative measures to mitigate the parking problems" and he stressed the cost and amount of council officers’ time dedicated to the consultation had been kept to a minimum, but could not give exact details.

Dudley’s Conservative opposition leader, cllr Patrick Harley, however, branded the consultation a "completely pointless exercise" and said: "It is absolute lunacy to have spent even one pound on this consultation."

Cllr Harley is now calling for a review of parking across the borough and says fines for illegal parking in problem areas could be used to subsidise a cheaper parking permit scheme.

He added: “Motorists pay enough to drive let alone to be charged for the luxury of parking in their own street. The key is enforcement - funds should be used to introduce affordable parking permits.

“The cabinet member must take some responsibility; he should have looked at this and said it is barmy.”