PARKING charges could be introduced at currently free Stroud District Council-run car parks to make up for falling government funding.

Most of the 38 car parks run by the council – including ones in Stroud, Stonehouse and Nailsworth – are free to use but the authority’s ruling coalition is considering bringing in charges at many of them.

Speaking at the meeting of Dursley Town Council on Tuesday, the Labour group’s deputy leader, Cllr Doina Cornell, said the change was being considered as part of early discussions for next year’s budget.

“Because of more reductions in our funding from central government – which will eventually reduce to nothing – we are having to consider a number of options,” she said.

“These choices are really tough for us to make but we have no other option.

"The way we are looking at it is that, by doing this, we may be able to save another valuable service further down the line.”

Cllr Cornell added that SDC hopes to meet with representatives of parish and town councils in the district once plans are more advanced, to discuss the charges idea.

Eight car parks in Stroud and one each in Stonehouse and Painswick run by the council require payment at the moment and under the plan, charges at those sites would be increased.

Charges would be focussed mainly on the council’s town centre car parks while its smaller village facilities, including Arlingham, are likely to be unaffected.

A meeting between council officers and representatives of the ruling coalition is due to take place today to consider the plans in more detail, including at what time of day charges will be enforced.

If the scheme was pursued it is expected that the charges would not be in place until about a year’s time.

In 2015/16 Stroud District Council (SDC) took in a total surplus of £305,000 from charges at its car parks and parking tickets.

That works out as an average of £25,000 every single month for a year.