PARKING meters could be installed on our streets to help fund a team of parking wardens.
Lincolnshire County Council is looking to lodge an application with the Department of Transport to take over parking enforcement powers from police in December.
If successful, the civil parking enforcement scheme could be introduced in Stamford, Bourne and the Deepings by June next year.
Councils across the country are taking on parking powers because police do not have the resources to enforce restrictions.
In Rutland the county council has been enforcing parking restrictions since June, 2008
But a report to Lincolnshire County Council’s highways, transport and technology scrutiny committee meeting on Monday says enforcing parking in the county would create a £1m deficit over five years.
The annual operating cost is expected to be £1.2m and the start-up costs for the scheme will be £250,000.
Highways officers are proposing to make up the deficit by putting parking meters in town centre streets.
They say the scheme would affect between 400 and 500 on-street parking spaces across the county, although locations have not been specified, and it is expected to recoup £540,0000.
The scheme’s wardens would also be enforcing South Kesteven District Council car parks. The council would retain control of how much they charge for parking and the income.
The committee will decide on whether officers should look in more detail at where on-street car parking spaces could be metered and to consult on the plans.
The report states: “The new pay and display on-street parking spaces would be in existing prime, town centre locations and in most cases would replace existing limited waiting parking locations.
“The maximum parking period would be set to encourage a high turnover of spaces. Parking charges would be set so that they were consistent with local off street parking charges and after consultation with the district council and car park operators.”
The suggestion to charge shoppers for on-street parking has been criticised by trader Paul Rose, who feels it would kill the high street.
Mr Rose, who is a director at jewellers Dawson of Stamford in Red Lion Square, said: “I believe in enforcement of free car parking spaces but I don’t believe that putting in meters and starting to charge in free spaces is going to help trade in any way whatsoever.
“If they are thinking of charging for what is now a free space, that would have a detrimental effect and kill the town centre altogether.”
Stamford Chamber of Trade and Commerce has put forward a plan to South Kesteven District Council, which owns Stamford’s car parks, to improve their use.
Vice-chairman Andrew Leach said of the parking meter suggestion: “I suspect it will be an expensive measure and won’t really solve our problems.
“The chamber policy has graduated fee scales so it is cheaper on the public car parks on less popular days and more expensive on more popular days.”
Bourne’s new mayor Brenda Johnson said: “I think it will be a great shame if they implement it in Bourne. The town is struggling now and we are trying to encourage people into the town and not out of it.”
An spokesman for South Kesteven District Council said: “We are aware that Lincolnshire County Council is looking to introduce civil parking enforcement.
“We need to understand how this may affect the district council and therefore we are seeking clarification on certain parts before we make formal decisions whether or not to be part of a countywide scheme.”