Opposition Conservative councillors at Cotswold District Council are making a last-ditch attempt to halt the planned parking charge increases which are due to come into effect in September.

Cotswold District Council’s cabinet is being asked to give the go-ahead to the car park cost increases and other measures such as introducing new 20-minute free bays.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the authority forecasted it would have a net increase of car park income of £435,000 from a rise in revenue and savings by the end of this financial year.

But the lockdown reduced the car parking income to almost nil across the district which was followed by the suspension of all parking charges, a council document said.

READ MORE: Car parking charges in the Cotswolds set to rise

The opposition Conservative group are urging the Lib Dems to think again, and have put forward a motion which will be debated at the next full council meeting asking the administration to reverse their decision and instead offer support to retailers and small business owners.

Cllr Richard Morgan, leader of the opposition Conservative group said: “Our high streets and our small business owners are in a world of pain right now.

"It's difficult to imagine how we could make things harder or more challenging for them but increasing parking charges and discouraging people from visiting our high streets is certainly up there.

“We need to face up to economic reality. Overseas tourists will not be returning to the Cotswolds any time soon and local unemployment across Gloucestershire has increased to five percent in May and will possibly get worse once the furlough scheme ends.

"Now is a time to support our high streets and our small business owners and not use their car parks as a local government cash cow.

“If the Lib Dems press ahead with their 30 percent increase, it will hit our business owners and our vulnerable and unemployed residents hardest."

The plea to abandon the increased parking charges is also supported by the independent Cirencester Town Centre Business Forum.

Spokesperson for the forum Mike Davis said: “We strongly believe these massive charge increases should be abandoned.

"The Lib Dem administration at CDC must be aware that all businesses in the town are desperately trying to recover from several bleak months of lockdown.

"Previously the district council has worked alongside business owners, keeping parking charges low and introducing schemes such as ‘free after three’.

"If all business increased their charges, I have no doubt many more shops would close.

"The Lib Dem administration need to encourage visitors to the town and find new, safe initiatives to help shoppers return.

"Free parking after 10am on days where visitor numbers are low, not increasing charges. Our forum would urge them to think again.”

The Conservative motion will be debated at a full council meeting on July 15, but this meeting will follow a cabinet meeting tonight at 6pm where councillors are expected to approve the changes.