CONTROVERSIAL new car parking charges that could be rolled out across the district are illegal, claimed an expert this week.

Cotswold District Council chiefs are facing a legal battle over proposed Sunday and overnight charges after Cirencester parking consultant Gerald Wilkinson revealed to the Standard that the move was unlawful.

In July, CDC's cabinet voted in favour of extending weekday charges to Sundays, with a flat rate £1.50 fee for overnight parking between 6pm and 8am, in a bid to raise £55,000 extra revenue.

But a ruling by the High Court against Camden Borough Council in 1995 states that councils cannot introduce new charges merely to generate revenue.

"The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 is not a revenue raising Act," the High Court ruled at the time.

Mr Wilkinson, of Chesterton Park, has worked with 150 councils throughout the UK on parking issues.

Now he has teamed up with Cirencester Town Council which last week voted unanimously in favour of seeking a judicial review into the CDC cabinet decision.

He warned that proposed charges would push people out of the town: "The way to plug a financial gap is not to just introduce parking charges because this will be detrimental to shops and tourism. People will simply go elsewhere."

CDC cabinet lead for parking Cllr David Fowles said the new charges would bring towns such as Cirencester in line with the rest of the district, where charges already exist.

But Mr Wilkinson said this explanation was flawed.

"The Act states you cannot introduce parking charges merely for consistency," he explained.

A spokesman for CDC said the current proposals were subject to public consultation that ended today (Thurs). He added: "Once this deadline has passed, all representations will be taken into account before any decision is made by the council."