RESIDENTIAL parking charges in Romsey are set to go up by 246 per cent as county leaders attempt to cover the cost of the service.

Town residents currently pay £15 for their permits but they could now be billed £37 more per year to park in front of their own homes.

County civic chiefs say the scheme, which is aimed at increasing the likelihood of locals being able to find a place to park close to where they live, is “costly to develop, implement, administer and enforce”.

As a result, it has earmarked a new baseline minimum fee of £1 per week, or a reduced £50 if paid annually.

The authority says this will mean the service is operated “on a full cost recovery basis”, and not subsidised by the districts’ on-street parking accounts – which are partly made up of cash from fines and tickets.

It also says that residents who currently don’t have to pay for a permit, as they were living in zones before they were introduced, will now have to cough up.

Currently, locals are charged from between £15 and £40 per year for a permit – depending on where they live, with districts and borough councils, such as the Test Valley authority, administering the scheme on behalf of Hampshire County Council – which manages the majority of the area’s roads.

But the county council says that its new fee is below the average annual charge of £64.

Its report noted: “Investigations have shown that the majority of [Hampshire] districts run residential parking schemes at a loss as a result of setting permit charges some way below the level where full cost recovery can be achieved. [This results in] the operational costs being subsidised through the districts’ on-street parking account.

“The county council also incurs costs associated with the residential parking schemes including maintaining the associated signs and carriageway lining.”

In Southampton, which runs its own parking scheme separate to Hampshire, residents have to pay £30 a year for a permit.

The plans are set to be rubber-stamped at the authority’s Environment and Transport Decision Day meeting on October 29.

Cllr Rob Humby, the county council’s transport chief, said: “We know from what Hampshire residents have told us that a well maintained highway network is a priority for them, and so we need to ensure that as much resource as possible goes into this.

“Making sure parking places are maintained...all comes at a cost, and this is currently taking resource away from essential highways maintenance.”