PARKING costs look likely to be slashed to keep Basildon district’s high streets alive.

Basildon Council has recommended a major review of parking costs across the district to support shoppers and businesses through the recession.

Suggestions include cutting as much as 20 per cent off season ticket prices at council car parks for the district’s residents and reducing charges for business parking permits by a third, from £150 to £100.

Short stay pay-and-display prices have also been reviewed.

But only car parks with less demand will see large price drops for season tickets, with the busiest parking spots staying the same.

Basildon Council leader Malcolm Buckley said town centres would die without strong businesses and it was important to keep a constant watch on the prices. He added: “We do keep all the charges under review and we are concerned to make sure businesses are supported as best we can.

“If you don’t have businesses that thrive, you have town centres that die.”

People living outside the district will also be able to buy season tickets for the first time, but will have no discount.

Season ticket prices for the Gloucester Park car park could be cut the most, falling from £650 to £320 per year for residents and £400 for non-residents.

But the prices at council car parks in Billericay will remain unchanged for residents, staying at £650 a year and costing £800 for non-residents.

Terri Sargent, the councillor responsible for the environment, said it made no sense to change the charges in Billericay, where there is already a waiting list for spaces.

The council’s short term pay-and-display car parks will charge £2.50 for up to four hours, which the council claim will make costs more consistent for shoppers.

The council recently made weekend parking at its car parks free to encourage more shoppers to visit high street shops.

Trevor Draper, chairman of the Billericay Chamber of Commerce, said each town had its own individual problems and needs.

He added: “I welcome anything that can be done to encourage more local retail.

“But you have other businesses and industries in town, not just retai, and we need to be able to provide parking for people who need long-stay parking as well.”

The changes will be brought before a cabinet meeting on Thursday and could take effect from April.