CAR parking prices in Worcester are set to be frozen for three YEARS in an unprecedented offer to boost the High Street.

The Worcester News can exclusively reveal how council chiefs are preparing to peg rates the same all the way to 2020 to help city retailers.

It means drivers will still pay just £3.60 to park all day at St Martin's Gate car park - as well as rock-bottom prices of £1 after 7pm and 40p for 30 minutes at selected sites.

The cheapest all-day rates are £3.50 at Tallow Hill, Tybridge Street and Croft Road - typically half the price of other cities of a similar size.

The move, revealed by the city council's Labour leadership, has been described as "fantastic" by shops.

Car parking prices in Worcester are already lower than other comparable cities, having been slashed to their current rates back in 2014 by the old Conservative leadership.

Since then car parking income has continued to grow, blowing away some concerns the reductions could cost the authority dear - it raked in over £3 million last year.

The three-year deal will apply at all 14 council-owned sites, with the expectation that future rises beyond that point will be linked to inflation.

Councillor Adrian Gregson, the leader, said: "We're looking at all the different ways we can generate income, and that includes a review of our car parks.

"But equally, we don't believe in fleecing motorists or visitors for the sake of it."

The news is a major leg-up for city shops, who co-ordinated a petition in 2013 the last time rates went up.

Tim Evans, from Toys & Games of Worcester in Broad Street, said: "It's excellent news - this is great for the city, for customers and for businesses.

"You can only look three years ahead anyway, who knows what will be going on after that period.

"It's great for us, the only thing I'd like to see is 45-minute free parking spaces and more street parking."

Yue Yue, who runs Ping An Oriental in Pump Street, said: "It's definitely good news.

"We need more people to come into Worcester - if they increased prices, it would only make things more difficult."

Car parking prices in Worcester are set each February as part of the yearly budget cycle, which means it will still need a yearly vote, as part of the process for formally rubber-stamping various council fees and charges.

But the three-year freeze already has cross-party blessing, and was raised between Labour, the Conservatives and Greens during recent private discussions about the finances over the coming years.

The Tories in particular have consistently argued for prices to be kept down or even cut.

Labour Councillor Joy Squires, the council's deputy leader, said: "I've never been of the view that car parking charges have to go up - there must be very good economic reasons for it."