Chorley Council has come under fire for providing £65,000 of free staff parking.
The authority, which faces a £4m budget shortfall over the next four years, has issued 217 free car parking passes to its employees this year.
They cost £300 each to buy privately and can be used on any long-stay car park in the town from Monday to Friday.
The council has defended its policy and claims it is part of staff terms and conditions, but traders and opposition councillors have questioned the perk.
Leader of Chorley Traders Alliance, Malcolm Allen (above), from Malcolm’s Musicland in Chapel Street, said: “In this day of age the council needs to question whether the staff should be taking up spaces that could be generating revenue.
“If nurses have to pay to park at the hospital and people who work in the town centre have to pay then it only seems right that council workers should make some contribution towards the cost.
“If they are going to get to park for free then maybe the best idea would be to ensure they stick to the car parks that aren’t as popular with shoppers.”
It’s not just council staff who benefit from free parking either as councillors are also provided with a free pass to use whilst they are on council business in the town.
Leader of the Chorley Labour Party, Coun Alistair Bradley said: “This is a difficult issue as the car parks are technically owned by Chorley Council and so they are only like other employers in that they are providing car parking for their staff.
“I think that is only right as a lot of town centre parking issues are caused by employers not providing designated spaces for their workforce.
“I think the passes are part of a wider issue and that parking in Chorley needs to reviewed and over-hauled.”
Staff who work for Lancashire County Council at County Hall have parking deducted from their monthly salary and are not provided with free passes.
Nick Hogan, who raised the issue on behalf of UKIP said: “I think it’s extrordiarily unfair on the private sector that they are having to pay to work in the town centre when the public sector are getting it for free.
“It’s not a case of having a pop at council employees, but £65,000 is a lot of money.”
However, defending the move, Coun Peter Goldsworthy, leader of the council, said: “Staff who drive to work are offered the opportunity to apply for a permit to use on the council’s long stay car parks Monday to Friday, at no cost to the council.
“This is part of staff terms and conditions.Over the last few years, we have applied very tough efficiency drives, which have resulted in both keeping council tax down and significantly reducing the number of people working for the council; which means fewer permits are now issued.”