RESIDENTS in Winchester are facing a rise in the amount they pay to park outside their homes after transport chiefs approved an increase in annual fees, dubbed “a poll tax on parking”.

Residential parking charges will rise by as much as 246 per cent across Hampshire after the county council gave the go-ahead.

Civic chiefs say the residential parking scheme, which aims to help residents find a place to park near their home, is “costly to develop, implement, administer and enforce”, so a new minimum fee has been approved.

This new increased charge will see Winchester residents with a car paying £50 a year, more than double their current £22 fee, although it would be below the £64 national average.

Currently, the city council administers the scheme on behalf of Hampshire County Council.

The city council is believed to be deciding next month whether it will continue operating the service, or whether it will be handed back to the county council.

The authority says the increase will mean the service is operated “on a full cost recovery basis”, and not subsidised by the district’s 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.

However, the move has been criticised by Liberal Democrat city and county councillor Martin Tod, who said there are “better ways” of plugging council finances.

“A whole number (of residents) have been asked to vote on extending parking control zones on the basis it costs £22. I think there’s been a breach of trust here.

“The problem of doing it on the first permit, it doesn’t take any account of how well-off someone is.

“It’s a poll tax on parking.”

Following the decision, Cllr Rob Humby, Winchester City Council deputy leader and Hampshire’s transport chief, defended the move: “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 with signs and lines, that appropriate traffic orders are put in place, and where waiting restrictions are imposed, that these are effectively managed, all come at a cost, and this is currently taking resource away from essential highways maintenance.

“The recommendations I’ve agreed mean that these costs can be recovered as changes are phased in.”

If the city council decided to continue running the service, any surplus income would be split between the county and the city.

The plans will come into force in April next year.