PLANS to bring in citywide free parking on Sundays would cost a council £3.5 million in its first year, according to a new report.

Next Thursday, Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy and resources committee will discuss parking charges.

One option being explored is for parking both on roadsides and in council-run car parks to be free on Sundays.

But a new council reports states that it would cost the authority a one-off fee of £1 million to change signs and would lead to an additional annual loss of £2.6 million in parking ticket, parking permit and parking fine income.

The report also warns that free parking would increase congestion and lower air quality.

A second option of free use of council-run car parks in the city is estimated to cost just under £1 million a year, so councillors are being advised to back a third option to look at different options during the annual review of charges later in the year.

The issue was brought before the council after a petition launched by local Liberal Democrat Jeremy Gale gained more than 1,250 signatures.

Councillor Jason Kitcat, chairman of the council’s policy and resources committee, said: “Offering free parking on a Sunday is likely to create more congestion and actually make it harder for those driving to find a parking space.

“That would have a negative impact on our economy.”