LAST year's lockdown and the decision to suspend parking charges cost Fife Council £1.8 million and the meter is still running on their losses.

Finance chiefs told councillors last week that introducing free parking between April and August, and the drop in demand as people were told to stay at home, was to blame for the huge fall in income.

And they've warned they're set to lose out on more money before the end of this financial year after suspending the charges again from January 11.

Councillor Altany Craik, convener of the economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation committee, called the loss of income “inevitable”.

“That’s something we knew would happen and I’m sure we’ve accounted for it accordingly,” he said.

“Our decisions sometimes have an impact on the budget directly.”

The council managed to bring in a higher-than-expected total of more than £1m in parking income between September and November, as restrictions eased and locals flocked back to shops and restaurants, but said the second lockdown imposed on January 5 will prove another setback.

Councillors were told previously that they would be able to claim loss of income back from the Scottish Government, although it's unlikely the scheme will cover all the losses incurred.

Council accountant Jacqui Johnstone said transport budgets had taken a £3.9 million hit overall due to the pandemic.

While parking is the largest driver of the shortfall, they also missed out on steady income from their bus stations – which normally generate income from bus firms using the stances – and the roadworks division due to projects not being funded.

The council expects the impact of coronavirus to leave a £73m hole in their finances but remain confident they will be able to cope through efficiency savings, dipping into their reserves and funding from the Scottish Government.

A previous report said that parking fees normally bring in about £200,000 a month, although that figure reduced significantly during periods of lockdown.

Free parking will remain in place in the Kingdom, to help businesses, support key workers and ease pressure on parking in residential areas, until the current lockdown measures are lifted by the Scottish Government.