CAR parking revenue in Wexford is down over €100,000 on last year, councillors were informed at a Borough Council meeting.
The news came as Cllr Jim Allen called for free parking from 4 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the month before Christmas.
Cllr Allen said Wexford faces competition from Kilkenny, Waterford and even Dundrum and free parking would help protect retail jobs.
Acting county manager Adrian Doyle said parking revenue is already down substantially this year for a variety of reasons.
A report on the shortfall is due to be presented to the Borough Council soon.
Mr Doyle said free parking from 4 p.m. three days a week for a month would be the equivalent of 15 free parking days.
He said last year the council introduced free parking from 12 midday on Saturdays in the lead-up to Christmas and this proved a success.
'We tried it all day but people who work in shops ended up parking there all day,' he said.
Cllr Allen said that if there were a better scheme he would support it.
The manager said the council previously offered free parking in the County Hall car park for two weeks before Christmas and no one used it.
Cllr Padge Reck said the council should not be seeking a bank overdraft of €4m and at the same time introducing a scheme that was going to cost money.
Cllr Fergie Kehoe said the Council had to combat the 'soakage' of shoppers from Wexford town centre to the outskirts.
'We have to get people back into the main shopping area of Wexford.'
Mr Doyle said he would once again favour free parking on Saturdays from 12 midday.
'Parking revenues are down over €100,000 so we have to have regard to the loss of revenue in this.'
'We have to run this as a business as well,' he said.
It was agreed that the manager would assess the costs involved and report back to the council with some proposals.