MOTORISTS will no longer be able to park for free in Mexborough’s main car park under cost-cutting plans announced by Doncaster Council.
Drivers visiting the town will be asked to pay an hourly rate to use the multi-storey car park in a move which has angered councillors and market traders.
Is is believed the complex has been free to use for more than 30 years but the council want to generate as much as £210,000 per year from it by charging people up to £2 a day to use it.
The move has been described by stall holders as another blow after they were already hit with a rent increase.
Councillor Sue Phillips said: “It will put people off and stop them from coming in to the town.”
Phil Toone, 60, Chair of the Mexborough Branch of the National Market Traders Federation, added: “We are already struggling so this is a major concern.”
The proposal was revealed as part of Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies’ draft budget proposals for the coming financial year, which were presented to councillors at the Mansion House this week.
It states charging motorists to use the car park could generate incomes of £50,000 in 2013/14 and £210,000 for the years following.
A council spokeswoman said it is proposed the charges are set at 50p for one hour, £1 for two hours and £2 all day.
She added all of the fees are in line with other paid-for car parks in the town.
Coun Phillips said she feared the parking fees could go up in the coming years.
She said: “It looks like the charges will be for the first year, but given that the council hopes to make even more in the following years then I can see prices going up.
“This has come at a time when we potentially have money coming our way to regenerate the town centre. We need more shoppers in, instead of turning them off.”
Mr Toone, who has worked on the market for 30 years, added: “I think a lot of people may be put off when the charges come in.”
Mayor Davies said: “The proposed charges are perfectly reasonable. There was a deal done by the Labour party in 1974 to subsidise the car park. The council can’t go on throwing more than £300,000 a year down the drain for it.
“There are no plans to increase the charges beyond the first year at this stage. We cannot make improvements to the car park unless we get some money in first. Difficult decisions have had to be made.”