FREE parking on bank holidays in an Essex town could be scrapped from next year, in a bid by the local council to help balance its budget.

A review of Maldon District Council’s fees and charges was approved by the authority’s strategy and resources committee last week, which included proposals to remove free off-street parking on bank holidays.

The review sets out a “strategic direction” for the fees charged by the council, and details will have to come back to the committee and then be approved by the full council before next year’s annual budget.

But critics at the meeting raised concerns removing the concessions could hurt footfall in the town centre and suggested the council needed to be more creative in its solutions. 

Speaking at the meeting, Kevin Lagan (Non-Aligned Independent, Maldon South) said: “The concern is if we’re trying to stimulate people to attend towns and recreational facilities, free parking can actually help.

“I’m sure that’s not going to generate thousands upon thousands of pounds, so I have a concern that removing that puts more pressure on residents attending.”

He suggested the council should look at “creative” options for parking in the town centre, such as raising the price but giving local residents a discount card.

Also included in the proposals are plans to phase out concessions for river wharfage over the next three financial years, and to increase charges at Promenade Park to ensure maximum cost recovery. 

Specific car parking charges could also be brought in for events and court costs could be increased to the maximum the magistrates’ court allows, according to a council report.

Charges for green bin collections and pest control could be amended to reflect the market rate, it continues.