MORE free city-centre parking for York residents in the evenings may mean prices increasing at other times or budget cuts, a council finance boss has warned.

A City of York Council task group’s recommendations for rejuvenating York’s night-time economy, which will now be scrutinised further, include looking at whether charges for the authority’s car parks could end at 5pm rather than the current 6pm.

The group, whose findings were last night discussed by the authority’s economic and city development overview and scrutiny committee, also said keeping secure city-centre car parks open until 8.30pm most nights and 11.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays should be explored.

A briefing from council finance manager Patrick Looker said car-park income was £250,000 below its £6 million target in 2012/13 and is expected to be £200,000 short this year.

Mr Looker’s report said: “Offers to reduce charges inevitably reduce the amount the council receives – this has to be paid from increased charges elsewhere or budget reductions.”

It also said 11.30pm weekend closing could increase annual staffing costs by up to £20,000. The parking recommendations will be looked at, but business cases will be required for any proposed changes.

Moves to encourage more late-night shopping to draw more people into York in the evenings will be taken forward, with the involvement of a new agency which is being formed to promote the city and attract more investment.

Recommendations that speed cameras or lower speed limits should be considered on some city-centre streets were dropped.

This area was not part of the task group’s original remit and no evidence was gathered during its work, with officials casting doubt on the council’s ability to carry out more speed monitoring or enforce new limits.

However, a proposal from Hull Road councillor Neil Barnes for the group’s final report to highlight that problems with city-centre traffic and pedestrianised areas had been raised by residents, and that this should be addressed, was agreed.