THE PRICE of parking in Worcester city centre looks set to be fixed after sweeping cuts were made in the summer.
The Tory leadership wants to permanently implement a £1 flat rate for parking between 7pm and 9pm, a reduction in coach parking charges from £10 to £5 and a re-introduction of a 30-minute option for motorists.
The changes, which were temporarily put in place in July, come after the previous Labour-led council controversially opted to rise car parking prices.
Speaking at a meeting last Tuesday (September 16) Coun Marc Bayliss, cabinet member for Economic Prosperity, believed the decision had a “devastating effect” for some businesses and drove people away from the city.
“We believe in the laws of supply and demand,” he said. “If you put the price up, the demand falls and we also believe the changes to car parking charges were ill-considered and ill-thought out.
“They had strong objections from the business community and residents. They discouraged visitors and tourists from our city.”
Coun Andy Roberts described the previous car parking prices as being “stung by an extra tax”, while Coun Lucy Hodgson also welcomed the move.
“Just look at how many people were here for the Tour of Britain,” she said.
“I know there was a discount on the day, but hopefully those people – whether by coach or car – will come again and re-live the experience they had because we want to be open to tourists.”
In a report presented to cabinet members, financial officers revealed they were expecting a lose of £129,000 to the council’s yearly income due to the changes.
But Coun Bayliss said it would be covered by a “one off use” of New Homes Bonus, which is a grant paid by central Government to councils for increasing the number of homes.
Coun Simon Geraghty, leader of Worcester City Council, added: “Car parks should not be used as a cash cow for the council and the changes will also mean money in people’s pockets which helps in terms of the cost of living.
“I think this is a really sensible move. We trialled it in the summer and I believe it was a popular measure, which has encouraged people back into the city.”