WORCESTER’S MP has hit out over “inexplicable” proposals to raise parking charges in the city.
Conservative Robin Walker says Worcester City Council should do a U-turn on the proposed changes in a bid to help the public.
But his stance has been rubbished by the Labour leadership, which says the old tariffs discouraged people from driving to the city to shop.
As your Worcester News revealed on Tuesday, the council wants to scrap its current 30-minute tariffs, which allow people to pay as little as 40p at selected sites.
Instead, drivers will be forced to pay for at least an hour, and the current deal where people can pay £1 after 7pm is also being scrapped.
Labour say the £1 rate, which was launched back in January, did nothing to encourage people into Worcester during the evenings.
Four-hour stays at car parks in Copenhagen Street, Cornmarket Street and Providence Street will also go up, from £5 to £6.
Mr Walker said: “Each of these changes on their own would be bad for business, but collectively they represent a slap in the face to the high street.
“I am glad that in the run- up to Christmas and the aftermath of a very successful Victorian Christmas Fayre, we have the usual discounts on parking put in place by the previous administration.
“What I find inexplicable is to make a series of increases to parking charges when they know that this could actually decrease revenue.
“It could encourage people to park elsewhere or even worse, discourage them from visiting the city centre.
“Our shops and high street need all the support that they can get to ensure a strong economic recovery.
“These moves put revenues at risk and people living in the residential areas around the centre could suffer from increased overcrowding if car parks go unused.”
The Labour leadership says that even with the rises, Worcester’s council-run car parks will still be cheaper than most rival areas.
Councillor Richard Boorn, the cabinet member for finance, said: “All-day parking in Gloucester is £6. Here, at St Martin’s Gate it is £3.60.
“Their whole argument is erroneous. Try going to Birmingham and places like that to find cheaper parking.
“The half-hour rate did nothing for revenue and discouraged people from spending more time in the city.”