THE cost of on-street parking looks set to increase for the first time in more than a decade.

East Sussex County Council wants to encourage “more sustainable travel choices”.

On Monday, its lead member for transport Claire Dowling will consider proposals to increase pay and display charges in Eastbourne, Hastings and Lewes.

The on-street hourly pay and display charges would increase by between 20p and £1.90 across the three towns.

Cllr Dowling is also expected to consider proposals to standardise the price of residents’ parking permits for the first time, with the cost to be tied to the vehicle’s CO2 emissions.

Under the new system, the cost of a first permit would be between £15 and £95 per year in all three areas.

In a statement released ahead of the meeting, the council’s director for transport and environment Rupert Clubb said: “With car ownership increasing, parking pressures can exacerbate congestion in our town centres and significantly reduce air quality.

“These proposals are about influencing driver behaviour and encouraging people to consider alternative forms of transport.

“Changes to permit charges would result in a fairer system in which permits cost the same regardless of where in the county you live, with motorists driving low emission vehicles paying less.

“Increasing on-street car parking charges would also encourage motorists to use town centre car parks rather than on-street spaces, helping us better manage demand.”

As a result of the new standardised permit parking scheme, some residents would see charges increase more than others.

For example, charges for first permits in Hastings would either remain the same or reduce for residents with lower emission vehicles, while most motorists in Eastbourne could pay more for their annual permits.

This came in for criticism during the public consultation, with most respondents saying they disagreed with aligning all charges with those in Lewes.

Just 12 per cent of the 2,161 respondents agreed or strongly agreed with this part of the proposal, while more than 59 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Some people argued it was unfair to compare the “demographically different” areas.

Most disagreed with moves to increase the cost pay and display.

Concerns were raised about the cost and reliability of bus and train travel as an alternative to cars.

Most respondents thought the council should take measures to reduce congestion in town centres and improve air quality. They agreed the council should encourage more sustainable transport and use vehicles that emit lower levels of pollution.

If approved, the new charges are likely to come into effect by the end of April and be subject to an annual review. The council said the increased fees would be used to cover the cost of the parking scheme, with any surplus ring-fenced for use on transport and highways initiatives, such as concessionary bus passes.