PARKING charges are “a licence to print money”, a Bournemouth councillor has said.

Cllr Nick Rose, who has angered the borough’s Conservative leadership in the past by going off-message, made the comments to a Westbourne business owner who had expressed concern about the effect of increased parking prices on struggling shopkeepers.

Recently he dubbed the Bournemouth and Poole councils bike share scheme “ill-thought-through”, and last month he was censured by the Tory group for abstaining on the budget vote in protest against spending on internal and press communications.

The email was shared with several of his colleagues, including council leader John Beesley, who also represents West Cliff and Westbourne ward, and cabinet member for transport Mike Greene.

In it, Cllr Rose said: “I hate car parking charges. They are a tax on small businesses.

"I prefer shopping in places like the big Westbourne Tesco or Lidl or Castlepoint where there are no charges.

"The principle of putting money in a machine to park just drives me mad, and I’ll always make sure I can pass my ticket to someone else if I get the chance.”

He said councillors are “immune from any charge increases” as they are exempt from paying charges when on council business, and that he and his colleagues “should get our passes revoked, and then we would also feel the pain of our residents”.

“The income raised from off-street car parks can be spent on anything,” he said.

“It is basically a license to print money for a council. And when we as a council waste £370,000 per year on a publicity department, and most probably the same again on a tourism department, well that’s where the car park fees go!”

Cllr Rose said he would propose introducing 30 minutes of free parking in Westbourne to encourage people to shop locally, and ask full council about “introducing innovative ways to improve the lot of our small businesses”.

Cllr Greene said: "The council is responsible for maintaining not just car parks but all streets as well, and that is extremely expensive. We think it is fairer if those who use the roads take a greater share of the burden."

He said the borough had increased charges in areas, like Westbourne and the town centre, where competition for spaces was high to encourage short stays, while freezing fees in Boscombe, Southbourne, the seafront and other places where spaces were more available.