CAR parking revenue in Worcester is forecast to be £250,000 below budget by the spring, it has emerged.
More and more drivers have been counting the pennies and leaving their vehicles in residential streets rather than fork out.
The worst reduction is at St Martin’s Gate car park, which has seen income fall25 per cent year-on-year since the opening of Asda.
Council chiefs say the drastic tumble is even more of a reason why the need to drop prices is paramount.
As your Worcester News reported on Monday, charges are being cut to as low as 40p for half-an-hour in selected car parks. There will also be parking available for £1 after 7pm in a bid to help bars and restaurants around the city.
A briefing paper, which is due to be voted on by full council on Tuesday November 27, says the budgeted income for 2012/13 is £2.7 million. But on current levels of business, it is forecast to fall £250,000 short of that when the financial year ends in March. Current levels of decline are running at about eight per cent
Councillor Simon Geraghty, leader of the city council, said: “The changes we are looking at are moderate ones and with St Martin’s Gate, it’s all about increasing that ‘dwell’ time so they spend longer in the city.
“We are facing active competition with car parking and it’s our response to that.”
If the new rates are agreed, they will come into force from February. The report also says that if take-up of the offer is good, it could result in extra revenue of up to £1 million coming into the coffers.
But it adds that the increase will only be realised if “a significant number of new customers materialise”.
St Martin’s Gate, which will drop its all-day fee from £6 to just £3.60 under the changes, will also need to be close to full, compared to half-empty now.
The document also says there is a risk income could reduce by a further £120,000 if it results in too many motorists taking advantage of the cheaper rates.
The city’s opposition Labour group has said it wants to see the Tory leadership create a beefed-up transport strategy for Worcester, rather than focus on prices.
Coun Adrian Gregson, Labour leader, said: “This is an opportunity wasted.”