ANGRY shopkeepers and residents from Southall have railed against parking rules, which they blame for turning their town centre into a "ghost town".

At Thursday's Area Committee meeting, councillors were accused of "closing businesses down" due to the introduction of Contolled Parking Zones (CPZ).

Harjit Sidhu, a shop owner on the Broadway, Southall, said: "There now are 600 fewer spaces for people to park during the day because of the CPZ. It is having a terrible effect on businesses."

The scheme, which was aimed to relieve congestion in the town centre, has resulted in it becoming a "ghost town", according to traders.

Mr Sidhu added: "There needs to be proper parking facilities for shoppers, and more pay and display areas during the day."

Harbans Midha, 67, of North Road, said the CPZ had been very detrimental for the area.

"It has been very bad for shops and businesses in this area," he said. "It has scared all the customers away so the shops suffer as there is no passing trade. The whole place is empty now. Southall is a business magnet but parking is insufficient."

Mr Midha also said residents were still losing out because some drivers were parking in residential streets to avoid paying.

He said: "Residents are having to drive miles from their home to park. Even though they have paid for permits they still get tickets because there are not enough signs saying where the pay and display is. There is just a lot of confusion."

One resident, outraged about receiving a fixed penalty notice after purchasing a CPZ permit, shouted: "There are so many houses but nowhere to park. I have to walk half a mile to park my car. There are yellow lines everywhere. No one is listening to us."

Marc Dorfman, borough manager for regeneration and major projects for Ealing Council, said: "The issue of car parking in Southall town centre is a critical one. A task force has been set up by the council to look at the issue.