COTSWOLD District Council has raked in almost £10 million in profits from parking charges in the last eight years, new figures have revealed.

The council says the cash is an essential source of income, especially at a time of unprecedented government funding cutbacks.

But it has nonetheless come in for a barrage of criticism from people who say charges should be cut to boost the local economy.

Between 2006 and 2013, total income from the district’s car parks was £14,634,000, while costs came in at just £5,245,000 – a difference of £9,389,000.

Opposition leader and member for Bourton and Northleach, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, said he was “staggered” by the figures.

“These numbers are eye-watering and people will be rightly angry that they are being hit hard hit by these charges while the council’s administration refuses to cut them substantially,” he said.

“Council parking charges can either encourage or choke off economic development. If councils waneat at local restaurants, then they should cut charges.”

The figures relate to council pay and display car parks including Old Market Way in Moreton, Rissington Road in Bourton and Maugersbury Road in Stow.

Stow’s mayor Alun White said: “The parking in Maugersbury car park is high and bears down on people who work in the shops and other essential workers in the town,” he said.

“We would like to see the council use some of the money to improve parking in Stow. They’ve shown no sign of doing it for years and it’s deplorable.”

But Cllr Chris Hancock, cabinet member for car parks and parking strategy, said the district council provides public parking as a discretionary, chargeable service – and that money raised allows other services to be delivered.

“Any surplus revenue generated is used to provide essential services including public toilets, environmental protection, clearance of litter and land drainage,” he said.

“This forms part of the council’s budget strategy, which has enabled vital front line services to be maintained, despite cutbacks in Government grants. Unless other funding streams could be identified, at least some of these essential services would have to be cut or cancelled altogether.”