MOTORISTS may soon have to pay to park on Stafford's town centre streets but one parking watchdog says it will damage trade and he will not vote for it.
The charges could be introduced to plug a projected £73,400 black hole in the cost of enforcement.
The idea has been mooted before but councillors have always shied away from introducing on-street parking charges.
A report to Stafford Borough Council's joint parking committee outlines plans to install pay and display machines to bring in income to cut the deficit.
Officers say a reduction in parking infringements between April and September led to a 19 per cent cut in the number of fines handed out compared to the previous year.
That resulted in a £29,545 operating deficit in the first six months predicted to rise to £73,400 at the end of this financial year.
A review has been conducted focusing on a reduction in service overheads and the introduction of a pay and display system.
Operational cost savings of £38,000 per annum have been made by renegotiating the cost of the hourly rate charged by contractors OCS Legion.
The report said: "A further reduction in the deficit could be achieved through the introduction of an appropriate level of on-street pay and display parking in Stafford town centre.
"The introduction of on-street pay and display parking in Stafford has been discussed at previous meetings of this committee which has confirmed an acceptance of this principle. The county council has highlighted the need to introduce on-street charging which was again raised at the recent Joint Staffordshire Parking Board."
Residents using parking permit schemes also face an increase of up to £1 a year.
Two years ago Staffordshire County Councillor Philip Jones, a member of the committee, proposed free parking in the borough after 3pm in a bid to rejuvenate Stafford and Stone town centres but the borough council didn't implement it despite backing from traders and Stafford train station offered free weekend parking.
Councillor Jones said: "I'm not in favour of on-street parking charges.
"It is damaging and destructive of trade and it can't help in these difficult times when high streets are struggling to keep their heads above water. I shall not vote in favour of it."