DOUBLING car parking charges in St Ives as Huntingdonshire District Council is contemplating for 2014 would actually lose the authority money say traders.

A survey of 32 shoppers showed that nearly four out of five would desert the town if they had to pay £1 an hour to park there, according to Jane and Richard Waters of Time for Health Yoga and Pilates club in Station Road in the town centre.

“Everyone who runs a business knows that if you double your prices you lose clients. HDC almost doubled parking fees in 2008,” Mr Waters said.

“With inflation, the increase should be 8p on a 50p charge in 2014. If charges are doubled in 2014, it would be about six times the inflation figure.

“We carried out a survey to examine the implications of doubling parking fees. The results show that about 80 per cent of those polled said they would stop coming to St Ives and instead go to out-of-town retail with free parking.”

If shoppers deserted St Ives at this level, the doubling of parking fees would lose HDC about £75,000, the traders said.

Mr Waters said: “The cost rises to a loss of about £200,000 if we take account of the increased use of fuel to go to out-of-town retail centres, more road accidents, and less business in St Ives to pay business rates.

“We believe the parking strategy being followed by HDC will literally drive customers to out-of-town retail centres with free parking, lose UK PLC money, increase road accidents, damage the environment and destroy the potential for making St Ives a more sustainable community.”

The traders also predict that a major hike in car parking charges would result in a fall in house prices in the town.

The move is one of a series of cost-cutting measures being considered by HDC in a bid to save £8million over the four years from next April.