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

Brighton and Hove City Council policy and resources committee will discuss the possibility of free Sunday parking charges next Thursday.

One option being explored would be 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 and 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.

Possible proposals suggested include promotional rates at underused Sunday car parks in Norton Road, London Road and Oxford Court.

The issue was brought before council after a petition launched by local Liberal Democrat Jeremy Gale gained more than 1250 signatures.

Councillor Jason Kitcat, chair of the 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. Retail research shows that parking controls encourage a turnover of customers that benefits nearby shops.”