Secret talks have taken place about bringing back parking machines and permits on busy streets across Cumbria – four years after being killed off.

The bitterly-opposed county council proposals were scrapped in November 2014 following a huge backlash but have now been rehashed.

Senior council bosses have toured fresh proposals around Cumbria for behind-closed-doors discussions with county councillors.

County council local committees have been told they could keep some of the income to spend on traffic management issues. The 2014 proposals suggested bringing in charges on streets in 11 towns - including Carlisle, Penrith, Workington, Whitehaven, Maryport, Keswick and Cockermouth.

But campaigners who organised petitions and protests said they are “horrified” the idea has been brought back to life.

Leaked documents estimate that £700,000 could be generated every year from the on-street parking charges across Barrow, South Lakeland, Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland.

A single parking machine servicing 10 spaces could generate £31,000-a-year. It would mean a £20,000 “surplus” once the £11,000 cost of the machine had been deducted, council documents show.

It has been suggested parking permits could be issued for residents, visitors, guesthouses, businesses and second homes owners – with the council charging anywhere between £10 and £50.

More traffic wardens could also be hired to enforce any new restrictions and issue penalty charge notices which would generate income, the documents state. The county council confirmed it had sought “preliminary views” but stressed that no decisions had been taken and the public would be fully consulted if the plans come to fruition.

The proposals – billed as a “discussion topic” have been presented to councillors on six local committees. Their meetings are usually open to press and public, but the discussions have taken place off the agenda. In a change to the 2014 plans, local committees, rather than the county council’s ruling Labour and Liberal Democrat cabinet, would be responsible for deciding if machines should be introduced and on which streets.

The county council said it had sought “preliminary views” but denied the plans were in anyway advanced.

A spokeswoman said: “Members on local committees have asked that they have more influence and control over decisions made in their area in particular decisions relating to highways and traffic management.“Any major decisions relating to highways, including any potential proposals on parking, would be subject to extensive public consultation and engagement before the local committee could make any final decision.

“The recent discussions with local committees relating to parking have been to ensure that the council has the correct governance in place to allow local committees to make local decisions.”