PARKING charges are to be reduced in a bid to entice more visitors into Worcester.

Charges are set to fall for long-stay and evening spaces, while ‘very short term’ prices will be introduced amid concerns that residential streets are “crammed” with cars belonging to workers, shoppers and tourists.

Meanwhile, in Herefordshire, a decision has been made to increase most fees.

Worcester City Council is concerned that hundreds of spaces in its 15 city centre car parks remain empty as drivers choose cheaper private sites.

The 780-capacity St Martin’s Gate facility has at least 300 empty spaces every day as motorists flood to nearby Asda, which offers three hours for £1.

A report is due out on Monday outlining a range of new tariffs which will be introduced from February, subject to agreement at full council later this month.

Councillor Marc Bayliss, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic prosperity, said: “If you price people out of car parks people use side streets and the immediate areas around the city centre.

“We know we’ve got car parks that are underused, and at the same time residential streets crammed full of cars.”

He said the council’s current long term fee was out of kilter with the rest of the market and the new tariffs would attempt to address that, as well as help the evening economy by launching cheaper twilight rates.

Nick Hunt, who owns Saffrons Bistro in New Street, said: “The last couple of years we’ve seen a downturn – anything that encourages more people to come into Worcester would be a help.”

Duncan Minshull, manager of Chesters Restaurant and Bar, also in New Street, added: “It’s a great idea – this is something I’ve noticed other cities have done.”

Most day-time fees are expected to stay the same for the fourth year in a row.

In the 2011/12 financial year the council earned £2.98 million from parking charges, and £2.87 million the previous year.

During the summer the council cut all-day rates from June until September to £1.80 in a bid to get more visitors into the city centre, but prices have since gone back up.

The new charges, which are being kept strictly under wraps until Monday, will need to be agreed by a meeting of the full council on November 27.

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