CALLS are being made for civic chiefs to abolish evening parking fees in the city centre.

Conservative leader Jeremy Moulton says scrapping charges after 6pm would boost the city’s night-time economy.

It comes as new figures revealed the city council made a £4million profit last year from parking charges, penalty fees and resident permits.

However the statistics, released by the RAC Foundation, revealed the authority made less money than neighbouring cities Portsmouth and Bournemouth.

It also showed the council’s profit dipped by more than £1 million compared to 2015-16.

But councillor Moulton has since challenged the authority to reduce the figure further, by scraping evening fees in the city.

He said: “I would scrap evening charges to support the local economy.

“It is hitting restaurants, particularly with Westquay Watermark opening.

“Some businesses are struggling and we’ve already had a few close.

“Scrapping evening parking would support these business and the jobs they create.”

Currently, drivers wishing to pay for parking in city council-run parking spaces pay full price until 6pm.

After 6pm, fees drop to 50p every half hour until 8pm.

Council leader Simon Letts said the authority had “no plans” to scrap the current charge, which was introduced in 2015 to replace a previous system – in which motorists paid between £1.20 and £2.50 for an hour’s on-street parking.

He said: “We think our evening parking charges are rational and reasonable.

“A lot of people come here in the evenings and if we didn’t have parking fees it would cause problems for the residents who are trying to park near their homes.

“We think it’s reasonable because it’s only 50p per half hour to help contribute to the upkeep of parking facilities in the city.”

Councillors Letts said that the city council had frozen its parking charges since he took over as leader in 2013.

He added: “That was a commitment and you can sign me up for another four years on that.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Southampton realises that both locals and visitors from further afield spend money in the city supporting the economy.

Unduly penalising those with cars can come at a heavy cost to businesses struggling to make ends meet.”