AFTER nearly a decade and more than a million pounds, the first of three long-awaited town parking reviews is finally drawing to a close.

Under pressure from neighbours in streets clogged by commuters, Essex County Council launched a review of parking restrictions in Epping, Buckhurst Hill and Loughton Broadway in 2003.

Restrictions were initially introduced in Epping and Buckhurst Hill in 2007, but a follow-up consultation revealed so many residents were unhappy with the changes that the council went back to the drawing board.

The Epping review is now nearly finished - but district council officers have told members 'important lessons' should be learnt before work starts on the Buckhurst Hill scheme.

A report due to go before cabinet members on Monday December 3 proposes targeting specific trouble spots, rather than a broad area.

It says: "Experience has shown that it is far easier to obtain consensus around local targeted schemes.

"If such an approach is considered then the parking review would address specific issues, for example: double yellow lines at junctions where inconsiderate parking is taking place or where there is a perceived safety issue, introduce resident parking zones in a street where there is a major problem and where the majority of residents are in support etc."

Sunnyside Road in Epping was among those streets selected for restrictions - but residents say their new permit scheme was forced on them despite most homeowners objecting.

Olive Freshwater, 80, said the parking bays had limited spaces, making it impossible for visitors to park.

"It's made it worse. There aren't enough for residents. I rent a garage which I'm paying £500 for," she said.

"It was inconvenient, people from the station coming, but when they went home there were spaces and we could get more cars in."

Barry Johnston, 64, lives in Torrington Gardens, close to Debden tube station.

He said: "Through the council's wisdom, Debden is going to be last - I'm hoping some time next year.

"It's still chaos. It's still as bad as it's always been."

He welcomed a council move to target the review at specific problem streets.

"There's only certain roads that are really badly affected. To do a blanket thing may be a waste of time and money."