COUNCIL bosses have unveiled plans to cut its predicted deficit of almost £7million over the next four years – which will see an increase parking charges and council tax to balance the books.

Winchester City Council had projected a shortfall of nearly £16million but it has said that it has found operational savings of £9million over the period.

Cllr Martin Tod, the authority’s cabinet member for service quality and transformation, said that key focus when deliver its financial strategy was tackling climate change and offering good service to residents.

He said: “It is about being prudent in a very difficult funding situation. The one thing we know is there are sources of income that we currently get that we won’t be getting in the future.

Around £5million of the shortfall is associated with a cut in funding from central government.

And cabinet member for finance and risk Cllr Neil Cutler said: “The thing we need to get across is there is a huge cut in government funding to the council at the end of the four-year period we will have a £5million shortfall, reduction in what we have had before.”

He continued: “What is key to our planning is to make sure we take action now so that we are in a position to reduce those deficits over the four-year period partly because circumstances are so uncertain.”

In order to make up some of the deficit the council has set its sights on parking with proposals to increase charges by three per cent for all car parks across the district, along with introducing evening charges and a £2 flat rate for Sundays for all central car parks.

“It is vital to us that our city centres thrive but we want to take action on climate change we want to take action on air quality and some of the ways we need to tackle air quality in particular by encouraging park and ride so people to park further out do cost a lot of money if we need to build new park and rides to the north of the city or in Easton Lane or other such areas then that’s going to money,” Cllr Tod said.

“We will be looking very carefully, if we see we have made a mistake then we will have to adjust but I don’t believe we will have done. The main focus of when we are trying to get people to park further out is what we call the central air quality management zone… that’s where we have a problem and the car parks extra movements to those car parks in that zone contribute to the air quality problem we have in the centre.”

It is proposed that £400,000 will be spent on better park and ride services, extending Sunday service from St Catherine’s, improving parking enforcement and further £105k in support feasibility studies on central Winchester.

The council is also set to lose out on £500,000 from Hampshire County Council through Project Integra, which pays recycling credits and HCC will withdraw from.

It comes at a time when the authority is expanding its waste collection offerings, with a plan to bring in garden waste which is proposed to generate income.

Cllr Tod said: “We are actually collecting more recycle materials because we are doing a better job on glass than we were before… but that has required us special vans for doing that and that’s an extra cost and so we lose half a million, plus we have extra cost for more complicated system for collecting and we are in a situation where council is seeing cuts so we have to make some hard choices at the heart of it is our commitment to tackling climate change and offer good service.

“The waste collection is going to cost us more and generate less because we won’t be getting this money back from the county.”

Residents are also set to see their council tax bills rise. The authority says the current amount paid to the city council by residents in band D properties will rise from £138.92 to £143.09 for the 12 months starting April 1, while those living in the city centre will see the amount rise from £69.19 to £71.27, after Winchester Town Forum approved a three per cent increase.

The financial plan went before cabinet on Wednesday as the Chronicle went to print.