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Drivers can be forgiven for feeling like they are constantly being asked to delve ever deeper into their pockets at the moment.

The increase in the cost of petrol and rising parking charges will certainly make some question whether they can afford the luxury of running a car.

So the fact that councils across our area have collected almost £11.7m from motorists in the past year might give many drivers added incentive to feel aggrieved.

Of course there is a difference between money collected from fines and cash gathered through charging people to park.

If you are a considerate driver and park within the designated area, for the permitted amount of time, you shouldn’t find yourself falling foul of the rules and end up with a fine.

But when motorists are continually being asked to pay more to park up, careful consideration must be given to whether that’s right.

Ian Taylor from the Association of British Drivers certainly feels that the increase in parking charges has become excessive. He warns that motorists shouldn’t be used by local authorities as ‘cash cows’.

We agree with him on that point. It would be unrealistic to expect to park wherever you want, whenever you want, for free. But charges must not be allowed to become excessive, or be used by councils as an easy way to generate income.

We understand that most of the money raised from these charges covers associated administration costs. Anything left over can be put towards the provision of services that benefit us all.

Yet as Chris Collins from Havant Borough Council acknowledges, we may now have reached a point where further increases would simply be unjustified.

While it might be confusing for motorists to be charged varying amounts at different locations, they do have the freedom to choose where they go.

So it’s in everyone’s interest – that’s the councils, local shops, businesses and motorists – to make sure excessive parking charges don’t put people off from visiting our town centres.