St Neots could be prepared to do battle over the ownership of the Market Square in an attempt to block the “unjustifiable” increases which would see the cost of parking almost tripled.

St Neots Town Council has said it is investigating the ownership of the area. The aim would be to halt any large fee increase if it can lay a solid claim.

If Cambridgeshire County Council, which wants to increase charges from 30p to 80p an hour, is found to be the legal owner then the town council said it would look at hitting Shire Hall financially by seeking money for repair work being carried out to the square’s day column, vandalised a year ago.

In a statement, Councillor Ian Gardener, chairman of the town council’s operations committee, said: “St Neots Town Council is totally against this 167 per cent increase in parking charges.

“It is totally unjustifiable, especially when there are no parking charges on Ely Market Square or in Ramsey.

“Such an increase would deter shoppers from using our High Street. The Market Square provides a short stay option for people just wanting to pop into the town to get a prescription, for example, and avoids them having to pay the higher charges in the other car parks.

“As a consequence, St Neots Town Council will be looking into the ownership of the car park.

“If the county council claim ownership of the square then the town council may seek reimbursement of the cost of repairing the day column.

“This increase in parking charges is totally to the contrary of the strategy set out in the St Neots Neighbourhood Plan.”

The proposals from CCC would also mean the maximum length of stay will be one hour between 8am and 6pm, but drivers would be able to pay for 15-minute slots, each costing 20p.

CCC is currently collating the results following a consultation about the about the changes which closed on Friday (May 9).

Valerie Barlow, 67, a retired administration officer of Hill Rise, said that she would be “over the moon” if the plans are quashed.

She added: “The 80p is a ridiculous amount, especially as people are going to put a pound in.”

A CCC spokesman added: “We will be looking at the results of the consultation and we are happy to talk to St Neots Town Council to consider any ideas they may have.”

The parking spaces on the Market Square will be closed from Monday until Wednesday (May 19-21) for repairs to the day column. 
Shops will be accessible on foot.