COUNCILS across the country, York included, are bracing themselves for millions in lost car parking fees.

Government figures released by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government show that in the current financial year, which runs from April 2020 until the end of March 2021, York could be down £5,859,000.

Meanwhile in Selby they expect to be down £188,000 and in Ryedale the figure is £603,000.

Councillor Andy D’Agorne, deputy leader of City of York Council and executive member for transport, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has obviously seen far fewer people visiting the city centre and council owned car parks during the lockdown since March. This has of course led to a substantial drop in parking revenue for the council. The shortfall has been partially mitigated by a government scheme whereby they will fund 75 per cent of income losses from such fees after we fund the first five per cent of losses.

“The exact size of this budget shortfall will depend on how lockdown restrictions are eased and how quickly people return to the city centre. As always though our top priority is the safety of everyone in York.”

It comes as The Press reported this week that a parking firm is offering free parking at a York city centre car park in a bid to help attract shoppers and diners.

Across the country local authorities were planning to bank more than £885 million in parking fees alone, but lockdown and the suspension of parking charges throughout the current crisis means they won’t receive the income they budgeted for when they drew up their plans for the year in February.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “If councils weren’t already under significant pressure, they’ll be bracing themselves even more as they see a huge chunk of their income for the year lost.

“For being so dependent on this income stream, councils are now stuck at a crossroad; waive the fees entirely and absorb the financial hit, or reapply them and risk hurting, or worse, losing businesses that bring in business rates and jobs in their towns.

“This loss of revenue should also act as a wakeup call to towns and cities intent on banning drivers from their centres. If they ban cars completely, they need to be prepared to lose a huge chunk of a major income source.”

The Press reported last month that the council’s income from parking has fallen by 95 per cent during the coronavirus crisis.

The council also announced in June two hours of free parking - reduced to one hour free in August - at council-run car parks for anyone using the Ringo app. The free parking is available only at car parks outside the city walls - Nunnery Lane, Union Terrace, Monk Bar, St George’s Field, Foss Bank, Bootham Row and not those inside the walls.