HIGHER car parking charges in Liverpool should be delayed because of the chaos caused by city centre roadworks, opposition councillors demanded last night.
But attempts to freeze increases, due to be introduced next month, are doomed to failure.
The way the decision was taken by the council's influential executive board means that there is no mechanism for the controversial move to be challenged.
Most council proposals can be called in for scrutiny, providing a number of the city's 90 councillors back a delay. The item would then be referred to a scrutiny committee for debate.
But the chairman of the council's resources select committee, Cllr Andrew Makinson, has waived the right for the increases to be challenged, meaning that it is a done deal.
Last night acting Labour leader Cllr Paul Brant said: "We will attempt to call in the item relating to higher car parking charges. But we will be told that the decision was taken under urgent executive powers, with no opportunity for scrutiny.
"What concerns me is that this is yet another controversial decision taken under the umbrella of 'urgency'. Our view is that using delegated executive powers in this way is an abuse of power. I have challenged the way the Liberal Democrat administration is using this practice too often and the official response is that if the leader deems a matter to be urgent, it is urgent.
"That is simply not good enough and the executive should be prepared to allow their proposals to stand the test of scrutiny and public debate."
The decision means that from next month pay and display charges, currently 70p for half an hour in the city centre, will rise to 90p.
All-day parking in the council-run Mount Pleasant car park will rise 66% from £3 to £5.
That will add £500 a year on to the cost of parking for city centre workers who use the car park. Ed Oliver, chairman of the Liverpool Stores Committee said: "We need to attract people into the city centre and the decision should have been put on hold, even for three years if necessary, while so much work is going on."
Cllr Peter Millea, the council's executive member for regeneration, said last night: "There are a number of issues that need to be addressed, such as improved signage to direct motorists to free parking spaces. We also want to upgrade Mount Pleasant car park. We also want to address things such as parking problems outside schools. The extra income will allow us to do those things."