Mell Square shopping centre car park looks set to be converted into a pay and display on a permanent basis – despite footfall continuing to drop.
Two years after what was originally a three-month trial, councillors have still to make a decision on whether to keep the car park as a pay and display or revert back to the old pay on foot system.
Coun Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport, said a final decision will be made in June but it seemed likely the pay and display system would be retained.
The pay and display trial, which was introduced in May 2012, caused outrage with shoppers and independent retailers who claimed changing from the pay on foot system put people off visiting the Mell Square shopping centre.
The move to pay and display is saving the council around £250,000, the amount that would have been spent replacing the vandalised pay on foot machines.
A similar trial was also put in place at the Lode Lane car park.
Coun Richards said this week that footfall numbers at Mell Square are ‘about what [they] were expecting’ but a recent Neighbourhood Services Scrutiny Board report says there has been a ‘noticeable drop’ in income from Mell Square car park, partly due to the change to pay and display.
The report also states that visitor numbers to Mell Square have reduced in recent years. “The decision has to come back to the Cabinet in June but the indications I got from the scrutiny board is that we should continue with the pay and display,” Coun Richards added.
“The board are in favour of the pay and display but have suggested we try and come up with more imaginative ways of getting people to use it.”
The drop in income from Mell Square car park has also been put down to the recession and the impact of the two and half hour free car parking at nearby Morrisons.
“It is a known fact that there is this free parking at Morrisons, we have tried to get the supermarket to play ball in the past but it hasn’t happened,” Coun Richards added.