SOUTHAMPTON’S night time economy could suffer after changes to overnight parking charges were introduced, a councillor has warned.

Motorists are now unable to rollover payments overnight for parking paid for before 6pm following the introduction of a flat £2 charge for evening parking in the city.

Parking machine users on Southampton streets could park overnight until 10am the next day – but charges for parking now starts at 8am following the flat rate introduction by Southampton City Council this month.

Southampton's opposition leader Cllr Royston Smith has criticised the move and fears city centre thriving nightspots such as Oxford Street and London Road will suffer as a result.

He added the council could potentially lose more money by people just paying £2 and collecting their car at 8am.

He said: “People will stop bringing their cars and potentially not come at all – damaging the night time economy and losing the council money.

“The Labour council’s parking policy lies in tatters. Once again they have wasted council taxpayers’ money and in doing so damaged the night time economy.

“Heads should roll for this incompetence and the first head should be that of the cabinet member. You couldn’t make it up.”

David Riley, co-owner of The London Hotel in Oxford Street, said the plan hasn’t been thought out by council chiefs.

He said: “They have only introduced this just after they increased prices.

“No one is going to look at the parking signs, especially with the appalling weather we have had.

“It’s going to affect business in the week, it’s really struggling now.

“People don’t want to go out in the week, only in the weekends, and we have to keep hold of the people that do go out, but they won’t want to be charged.

“I have always said don’t drive, leave the keys at home. We want to be responsible here but they are not allowing us to do so.

“If they are introducing charging to parking, fine, but please allow for parking overnight.”

A spokesman for Southampton City Council said: “The recent introduction of a flat £2 charge for evening parking means that it is currently not possible for parking that was paid for before 6pm to ‘roll over’ to the following day as it was previously.

“If customers wish to leave their cars parked in the council’s surface car parks (in other words not multi-storey or on-street) until the following day they can do so by paying at the end of the charging period.

“This is from midnight for surface car parks and from 8pm on-street.

“Charges for parking start from 8am so you should ensure that payment is made before this time if you’re planning to leave your car in one of our car parks overnight.”