Proposed parking charge increases have been branded "draconian" as a public consultation into the matter begins.

The consultation, which has been launched today (March 29) includes plans to introduce a new charging system for on street parking, car parks, residents’ permits and visitors’ permits.

Wimbledon town centre will see the highest charges going up to £4.50 an hour in some areas.

And permits in Wimbledon will increase from £65 to £150 annually.

In areas like Raynes Park and New Malden where public transport in the area is not as good, permits will go up by £5 to £70.

Stephen Waghorn MBE lives near the middle of town and said it was "disgusting" what the council are doing.

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"I’ve been paying £65 and now they are going to make me pay £120," he told the Wimbledon Times.

"But I'm more worried about my mother-in-law.

"Relatives come and visit her all the time so she buys day permits for them. But if the prices go up, how is she expected to be able to afford it.

"The council say they are worried about loneliness but then they put in a draconian charge like this.

"These charges are very high and lonely people will be penalised as a result."

The council said the new system is being proposed to encourage people to make more journeys by bike or on foot to help reduce air pollution levels.

It added that the proposed new set of parking charges is led by geography and that it takes into account public transport links in each area in the sense of parking in areas well served by public transport will cost more than in places which are less well connected.

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Merton's cabinet member for adult social care and health, Tobin Byers, said: “The council has already taken a number of measures to tackle the poor air quality in the borough, but we need to do more.

"A significant proportion of the pollution generated in Merton comes from our vehicles, so we need to try and reduce car usage and encourage people to use more sustainable modes of transport, which will help improve our air quality.

“We all have a part to play in reducing pollution levels in our borough by making more journeys on foot or by cycling, rather than driving. Merton is the only London borough to have trains, two Underground lines, trams and buses, which means people who live in, work in and visit the borough could leave their car at home more often.

“I would urge everyone to have their say in the consultation on the proposed new parking charges, which aim to improve air quality and encourage more active travel, particularly for local journeys.”

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At the Raynes Park Community Forum on Tuesday night residents were outraged with the proposals.

Chris Larkman, Secretary of the Raynes Park Association said: “There is no welcome to your stupid plans from anybody, I would think.

“Basically it is fair that you tax me for the privilege of driving a car, I’ve no problem with that.

“This tax is totally unfair. If I have a £3million house on Wimbledon common I pay nothing and if I’m in an area with no controlled parking I pay nothing.

“It is fair for you to tax me if it is done across the board, but this is not across the board.”

His comments were met with applause from other residents.

The consultation will run until May 5 and to have your say, click here.