STREET car parking fees in Doncaster have risen by 125 per cent in the three years - more than any other town centre in the country.
Motoring bosses reckon Doncaster Council is unfairly targeting drivers and labelled the huge hike in short-stay parking costs as a “cash cow”.
The authority said the charge rise had been implemented as it looks to find £70 million of savings following Government spending cuts.
But they have arrived when many residents and businesses are struggling to cope in difficult economic times.
The data, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, revealed councils across England raised an extra £184 million from parking charges last year. Authorities generate £1.35 billion a year through parking services, the figures also showed.
Mick Maye, a former president of the Doncaster Market Traders’ Federation, is concerned the rises will drive shoppers out of the borough.
He said: “Parking charges in Doncaster are becoming a cash cow.
“Targeting the motorist is easy money to make, but it takes shoppers out of Doncaster to the out-of-town centres.”
Motorists using on-street parking are charged £1.80 for one hour. Three years ago it cost just 80p for the same amount of time.
But mayor Peter Davies said the 125 per cent referred to on street parking - which accounted for only seven per cent of council operated spaces. He said the policy was “sensible.”
He added: “The purpose of these expensive quick parking areas is for people to get near shops and do their quick bit of business and stay about ten or 15 minutes.
“We have got lots of free parking in the town around Kings Road and the car parks which the council owns start from £3 a day which is very reasonable.”
Gill Gillies, Doncaster Council’s assistant director of environment, said the hikes also aimed to encourage motorists to use better-value long stay car parks in the town centre.
She said: “Like all councils we are trying to maintain services for residents with less money, and this will be reviewed as part of next year’s budget setting process.”
Doncaster’s hiked charges dwarf the next biggest riser Derby, which has increased charges by 42.9 per cent over the last three years.
Seven local authorities, including Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield and Hull, did not increase on-street charges.
The figures come after research recently revealed 21.3 per cent of Doncaster’s shops were standing empty. The data, released in February, meant the borough was ranked the seventh worst in Yorkshire and Humberside for the number of empty premises.
Last year retail analysts Local Data Company named Doncaster ninth in a national league table of the towns and cities where the number of empty premises was increasing.
And traders told the Free Press, after we revealed the number of parking fines in the town centre had risen by 30 per cent in September, traffic wardens were driving visitors out of the town centre - having a knock-on effect on Doncaster businesses.