The cost of parking in Huntingdonshire could rise by more than 30 per cent in places, if proposals by the district council are approved.

A proposal to raise charges for both short stay and long stay parking across the district, which will include 22 car parks in Huntingdon, St Ives and St Neots, were put forward at a meeting of the council's overview and scrutiny panel last Thursday.

At the meeting, Councillor Darren Tysoe, executive councillor for operational resources, said: “The council has to be balanced with the needs of our residents, needs of our retailers and needs of our businesses.”

Currently the council earns £2.5million each year in parking charges and, if the plans are given the go-ahead following a public consultation, it could collect a further £250,000 by 2020.

Under the plans, rates could rise by 20p in short stay car parks and 30p for long stay parking which Cllr Tysoe said was “extremely competitive” compared to surrounding towns.

If the proposals are rubber-stamped the hourly rate would rise from between 40p-80p to 60p-£1, while a four-hour ticket will increase from £1.20-£3.20 to £1.50-£3.50.

The review could also see an increase to season tickets of 33 per cent from £300 to £400 and by 30 per cent for resident parking permits from £100 to £130.

However, there is some good news.

According to the council, it will allow free parking in all car parks on Saturdays after 3pm resulting in a loss of £103,400 in order to “directly support retailers and businesses”. The proposals also see the first hour in Riverside car parks, in both St Neots and Huntingdon, become free, which will cost the council £27,600.

But calls are being made for the authority to keep the rates as they are amid fears any hike will have a negative impact on town centre footfall.

Councillor for Priory Park St Neots, Derek Gardener, said: “People who want to do greater shops will go to Cambridge and Peterborough, if we keep putting up prices we are moving people out of our market towns.”

Councillor Tom Sanderson added: “It would give people more of a reason to park outside of district council car parks, people will choose to park in adjoining streets which will cause a lot of problems.”

The last time the council reviewed its parking measures was in 2013 which saw one hour charges increase to 80p an hour – up 20p or 33 per cent.

The council has stressed that this will not happen until a public consultation is carried out and will form part of a range of plans to help balance the books following a cut in government funding.

Despite the proposal being rejected by the committee, members of the

District council's cabinet will consider the proposals and the timescale of a

Public consultation next Thursday (October 20).