PARKING charges could be introduced in Prestwich, Ramsbottom, and Radcliffe in a bid to claw back council overspending.

Off-street parking in the borough is set to cost Bury Council approximately £270,000 in overspend this year.

A reported presented to the overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday night looked at forecasts for 2018/19, revealing that although car parking incomes are increasing year on year there is a discrepancy in the target and actual revenue.

The council is expecting to recover £170,000 from car parking this financial year.

However, costs associated with business rates and several other factors are leaving it out of pocket.

One of the biggest income losers is the council's staff permit scheme, which is costing the authority around £30,000, as staff pay to park at much lower rates than pay and display.

Suspension of car parking charges for town centre events is further costing the council around £25,000.

The controversial virtual parking permits scheme has also hit the council's pocket, despite being abandoned, as the local authority is still shelling out for set up and running costs to date.

Bury is also losing out on revenue to increasing numbers of private car parks in the borough, while the number of council owned parking spaces continues to fall.

The report revealed that Bury Council no longer owns the majority of parking spaces in the town centre.

Similarly the so called "Metrolink solution", by which drivers save money commuting on the tram to Bury from Radcliffe, where it is free to park, is hitting incomes.

Drivers can save £15 a week using this system, equal to £700 per year, the report suggests.

Other factors contributing to the overspend include leakage from pockets of free on-street parking on the town centre's outskirts, and the poor conditions of lines and signs preventing enforcement in some areas.

In order to bite back some of the overspend the report outlined several measures to improve incomes, including a wholesale review of car parking in Bury town centre.

This could look at the viability of each individual car park and potential closures and investment, as well as town centre signage, leakage, tariffs, and competitors.

Monday to Saturday charges are also being considered for districts around the borough ­— principally Prestwich, Ramsbottom and Radcliffe ­— which could bring in an estimated £275,000 to £725,000.

The report also suggested attempting to attract more parkers by upgrading facilities ­— such as cashless payments methods including cards and contactless, carrying out repairs, and variable message signs indicating availability of spaces.

Increasing costs for staff parking permits is another proposed option.

However the report did recommend the continuation of using private contractors for parking enforcement, citing that it will be cheaper than bringing the responsibility in-house.

Bury Council's head of engineering, David Giblin, said that the proposals did not constitute a finite list, adding: "This is a dynamic list and we are always looking as much as we can to find solutions to these problems.”