Normally all city centre pay and displays operated by the council offer free parking on the Sundays leading up to Christmas.
It’s happened every year for a long time and has previously been described as a “gesture of goodwill” to support traders and boost tourism.
But there won’t be any free parking this festive season as the council says it is “inconsistent” with its policies on air pollution and climate change.
Liberal Democrat Leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed was critical and said traders needed more support than ever following the pandemic.
“Goodwill this Christmas will be in short supply thanks to the council leadership, who have become modern day Scrooges,” he said.
“The free parking has happened for many years. The council should be looking at how best to get footfall into the city centre given all the difficulty that business have had during the pandemic and the demise of John Lewis.
“This seems another knock for businesses when Meadowhall has free parking.”
Coun Douglas Johnson, Executive member for transport, said the council was currently working on incentives to increase public transport use during the festive period and options were still being discussed.
He said: “Free parking will not be offered this year because it would be inconsistent with other moves to address air pollution and climate change.
“The council should not therefore be providing incentives to bring individual cars into the city centre.
“Instead, we wish to work with SYPTE to offer improved public transport in the run-up to Christmas.
“As in previous years, we will be directly funding the provision of bus services on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
“It is essential that we provide opportunities to get people to work, visit family and friends, or get into the city centre over the festive period and without funding these buses wouldn’t run.”
The council has previously lost up to £40,000 income with the free Christmas parking but always said it was important to boost trade for shops and leisure facilities.