SHOPPERS will no longer be able to park for free in two Malvern town centre car parks at weekends and evenings.

At present visitors are free to park in Malvern Hills District Council staff car parks at the Council House, in Avenue Road, and Brunel House, in Portland Road, outside of office hours.

But on members of the council’s executive committee have voted unanimously to start charging.

They are concerned that the car parks will be seen as an easy target by drivers who currently park on the streets when civil parking enforcement is introduced later this year.

Ivor Pumfrey, head of community services, said unauthorised parking already caused problems in the two car parks and that introducing charges was seen as the best solution.

“When civil enforcement comes in those drivers being moved off the street will need somewhere else to park and will increasingly see the opportunity provided by these car parks,” he said.

The chairman of Great Malvern Association of Traders, Chris Marks, said it was “a shame” the car parks would no longer be free but said he could understand the council’s position.

Both car parks will be designated as long stay and adopt the council’s existing tariffs.

Converting the car parks to pay and display will cost the council about £10,000, with ongoing costs of about £3,500 a year. These costs are expected to be recouped from future receipts.