COMMUNITY leaders have slammed county hall proposals to increase the number of chargeable parking spaces in East Lancashire.

Councillors say the plans to add more street pay-and-display ticket machines and chargeable parking spaces across the county will drive customers away from the high street.

But bosses at the authority, which has to cut £77m from its budget by 2022, hope it will be a revenue-raising initiative.

Under the proposals, the number of chargeable parking spaces would increase from 190 to 560 across 13 towns.

The number of pay-and-display machines would also rise from 27 to 80 in the same area, which includes Clitheroe, Whalley, Great Harwood, Burnley, Padiham, Colne and Nelson.

However, councillors have hit out at the plans.

Cllr Mark Townsend, Labour leader of Burnley Council, said: “This will put even greater strain on a retail sector already facing major challenges.”

Conservative Ribble Valley council leader Cllr Ken Hind said: “We have a balance in Clitheroe of free street parking and chargeable car parks and I would not be in favour of the proposal.”

Pendle Liberal councillor Dorothy Lord said: “We have fought off proposals to charge for parking in Colne over very many years and we do not want it now.”

Great Harwood Labour councillor Noordad Aziz, who along with other councillors in the town, including Bernadette Parkinson, has set up a petition with more than 600 signatures opposing the plans, added: “We want each of our townships in East Lancashire to prosper and this proposal hampers that.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “There is currently a limited amount of on-street parking where charging applies throughout the county, with 217 spaces in Lancaster and Preston only.

“The budget proposal to be discussed by cabinet is to expand the number of spaces in these cities, and introduce new spaces in other towns and local centres."

“A number of areas are under consideration but no decisions have been made about where these spaces would be introduced.

“Applying charges to on-street parking can help to ensure turnover of spaces where there is demand, making it easier for people to visit local businesses.

“There is a requirement to consult on all new traffic regulations, so people would have an opportunity to give their views before they are introduced.”

The county council’s cabinet will meet today to discuss the plans.