PLANS to charge for car parking would deliver a “severe blow” to a town centre’s future, a councillor has warned.

Cllr Ron Hampson, who represents Buckley Bistre West, has spoken out over a suggestion that Flintshire Council could set car park tariffs in a drive to save £10million next year.

He believes that if the proposal, which is awaiting full discussion by the executive committee early in the new year, is ultimately implemented, it will have a massive negative impact on the already struggling shopping centre of Buckley.

Cllr Hampson said: “Buckley is already struggling and if this policy wins council backing, it’s enforcement would be a retrograde step. We need to keep the town as busy as possible and I’m very concerned that the amount of shoppers in the town centre is already shrinking.

“At the moment the town’s really relying on free car parking to bring in trade and implementing charges will only make an already difficult situation worse.”

If the plan wins council approval, shoppers in Buckley, and those who use any other council-owned car parks across the county would have to pay 20p per hour.

And existing charges in Mold and Holywell would more than double from 20p per hour to 50p, producing an estimated saving of £938,000 over the next three years.

Council chiefs stress the plans are a work in progress and have not yet been formally approved.

According to Tony Sharps, the council’s deputy leader, a report which outlines more than 100 possible savings measures is in the process of being printed.

He said: “At this stage we are working towards a full discussion of the question of car parking charges in all Flintshire’s towns and the resulting benefits or problems.

I appreciate that some councillors have got genuine concern for their constituents but it does cost money to contract and maintain these car parks.

“Any extra revenue created by car parking charges will be pumped directly back into maintenance.”

But he did concede that Buckley is a special case with its own problems which will not be easy to solve.

He added: “We do realise Buckley needs major investment but we can’t leave it to shoppers in Mold and Holywell to pay for it.”