A PLANNED parking charge increase, that would come into effect in September, has now been approved.

At the latest meeting of Cotswold District Council's cabinet councillors agreed to give the go-ahead to the car parking 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.

The opposition Conservative group are now urging a U-turn and have put forward a motion which will be debated at the next full council meeting, on July 15, asking the administration to reverse their decision, and instead "offer support to retailers and small business owners".

Councillor Richard Morgan, leader of the opposition 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.

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"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."