Lib Dem councillors are preparing to increase parking charges in Northumberland market towns, in order to fund short periods of free parking for visitors. On Monday, the Lib Dem Executive of Northumberland County Council will discuss plans for a permit which would establish two hour periods of free parking. However, the permit would be funded by general increases in parking charges. Northumberland Conservatives have criticised the plan as ‘giving money to residents with one hand and taking it back with the other’.Leader of Northumberland Conservatives, Coun. Peter Jackson, said, “The Lib Dem plan proves that they see car parking as a cash cow, but this is an unwarranted tax on county residents. The Lib Dems are promising to give money to residents with one hand, but to take it back with the other.The Lib Dems are failing to challenge the basic inequality whereby residents of North and West Northumberland pay to park, when parking is free in Blyth and Ashington. It cannot be right that residents of Berwick, Hexham, Alnwick and Morpeth, who already high parking charges, will be forced to pay even more. The latest Lib Dem plan will do little to support our market towns whilst reinforcing the current unfairness.”It is the established policy of Northumberland Conservatives to make parking free for residents of Northumberland. The Conservative plans have won the backing of Chambers of Commerce in Berwick, Alnwick, Morpeth and Hexham.