FLINTSHIRE Council could put an end to free parking in the county.
As the authority battles to make savings of £29 million over the next three years it is looking at introducing parking charges in Flint, Deeside and Buckley.
Community leaders are fiercely opposed to the move and fear the charges could be the final nail in the coffin of Flintshire’s town centres.
Connah’s Quay councillor Bernie Attridge said he would fight “tooth and nail” to oppose the introduction of any charges.
He said: “I want to put a line in the sand. The last thing we want is for car parking charges to be put into our towns. It is a stark possibility. I fear it is looking possible.
“We know money is tight and they are looking to bring in as much revenue as possible. My fear is that we are going to have them introduced.
“I am concerned it will be the final nail in the coffin for our town centres.”
During a meeting at County Hall Cllr Attridge asked chief executive Colin Everett whether a plan to introduce a fees and charges policy would include car park charges.
Mr Everett said: “There is an agreement on the books to look at car parking charges.”
Mold and Holywell are the only two towns in which motorists pay to use council-owned car parks.
Buckley councillor Ron Hampson said free parking was the best thing the town had to offer.
He said: “We would vehemently oppose the introduction of parking charges. They are looking at it. Things are not good in the town at the moment but if they introduced charges it would be the death nail for the town.”
Last week councillors were told job cuts had not been ruled out after the extent of the council’s financial deficit was revealed.
However, the council has already managed to find almost £2 million of savings from this year’s budget.
Kerry Feather, Flintshire’s head of finance said: “The council is developing a policy which will consider whether charges should be made for the services it provides, where the council is able to charge, and, if so, at what level taking account of affordability and market rates in the region.
“This will encompass all services including car parks.
“The council will consider the policy over the autumn and winter as members respond to the challenging financial future ahead and set the 2011/12 budget in February next year.”
See full story in the Leader