A new report shows revenue from council car parks is heading for a huge drop following increases in pay and display charges.

A review to next week’s cabinet meeting shows finance officers conceding that a shortfall of £350,000 in car parking income is currently forecast against the 2013/14 target.

They say several factors are to blame, including strong competition in some areas from off-street private parking contractors and a decrease in car use as people find other forms of transport.

But they also report “a general borough-wide decline” in car parking ticket sales.

The authority “rationalised” car parking charges across the peninsula earlier this year.

From April, motorists visiting West Kirby, Heswall and Liscard shops have had to fork out extra cash for local authority car parks.

It meant that the first hour of parking in a council-run car park went up from 30p in some districts to £1.05.

Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly said: “This shortfall in expected income from car parking charges suggests the above inflation increases in parking charges last year in areas like West Wirral has simply resulted in fewer people visiting the shops and leisure facilities in these areas.

“This will be very damaging to local businesses.

“Looking ahead, the council is planning to charge for car-parking at the country parks and New Brighton.

“But given that the council has failed to meet its targets, and the damaging impact on local businesses we are seeing from last year’s decision to raise charges, this new idea needs to be swiftly dropped.”

Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said: “That explanation for the shortfall is far too simplistic.

“We are still in a recession, people have less money to spend and are being more careful about how and where they spend it.

“Frankly, I think Cllr Kelly is trying to score political points, although I will bear his comments in mind when we review the option of charging for parking in country park areas.”