MALDON District Council is on course to make a profit of nearly £600,000 from car parking charges, the Standard can reveal.

A Freedom of Information request has shown the council’s total net income from Maldon town centre car parks for 2017/18 is £599,531.

The figure, which is provisional while end of year accounts are completed, excludes money generated by season tickets and fines.

In the 2015/16 financial year, before controversial parking charges were increased, the council made £408,165 profit.

The parking prices were hiked to plug a hole of £150,000 left by Government funding cuts.

But shopkeepers have raised concerns the increased parking rates have had an impact on trade.

Maldon mayor Jeanette Stilts said: “Personally, I think it’s causing us to lose revenue on the high street.

“It’s not just the cost of the car parks, there’s nowhere to park in general.

“The more Maldon grows, the more houses there are, the more cars there are. If you move into a house or a shop that doesn’t have car parking, where do you park?

“For most people, they’re not shopping, which doesn’t take the revenue into the high street.

“My answer is just more car parking options to be honest.”

Town councillor Stephen Nunn said: “There’s no doubt that local government is under a lot of pressure to figure out where to find funds.

“I’m a bit old fashioned, I wouldn’t charge on a Sunday.

“I think what needs to be asked of the politicians is how the money is being used.

“If the generic answer is that it is to ‘support services’ then frankly I find that that answer isn’t good enough.

“As town councillor, I have no control over those charges but I am aware that it causes an emotive response among residents and visitors alike.

“Any increase in charges should be fairly measured in a way that allows the council to deal with any aspects of what is needed for the area.”

Emma Foy, director of resources at Maldon District Council, said: “The council is pleased to be able to provide a good standard of car parking services in Maldon High Street and Promenade Park which are well used by residents and visitors alike.

“Income from parking charges funds the maintenance and development of parking facilities such as the work currently underway in Promenade Park.

“Additional net income from parking contributes to the provision of other public services provided by the council.”