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Cutting Worcester parking charges 'has paid off'
A DECISION to lower car parking charges in a bid to increase business in Worcester has paid off – with income falling less than predicted since prices were cut.
Income from parking charges at Worcester City Council is forecast to fall by about 10 per cent this year, amounting to a loss of £300,000, an in-house report reveals.
However, figures from the first quarter of the 2013/14 financial year, which runs from April to June, shows income is higher than estimated after the cut in charges, by £16,000.
The old Conservative administration decided to lower the charges to just £1 after 7pm, and make them as cheap as 40p for half-an-hour at selected sites.
And the policy, which has been widely backed by retailers and business leaders, is still forecast to bring in about £2.6 million during the entire financial year.
Now, the Conservative group has made a fresh plea for prices to be kept down, despite the falling income.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, group leader, said: “I’ve always thought of parking as something which supports the economy. With retail going through such fundamental change, from the internet to ‘click and collect’, the last thing they need is higher charges.
“We are in competition with the likes of Cheltenham and Solihull’s Touchwood complex.
“The economy is just starting to pick up slowly, so I think it would be a retrograde step to change anything.
“I was in Kidderminster this week and candidly, there were a lot of empty shops. Worcester has weathered the storm and we don’t want to pull the rug from businesses now.”
The Labour administration says it will take a look at the facts and figures carefully before deciding a strategy.
Coun Richard Boorn, cabinet member for finance, said: “I remember these old fantasy figures being mentioned that we could get an extra £1 million from parking income.
“I know it was done to increase footfall in the city, which is something we all want to see.
“It hasn’t achieved a growth in parking income but the thing we need to look at is, has it been bringing more people into the city.”
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