TRANSPORT chiefs have postponed plans for a further hike in parking charges at Monkspath Hall Road, due to dwindling numbers of visitors to town centre car parks.
Almost 20 per cent fewer drivers have used the car park since fees went up by 50p in April and another increase by the same amount had been planned for next spring.
Now this has been deferred until 2014, as Solihull Council attempts to reverse a general dip in car park users - which could see a shortfall of up to £218,000 in this financial year.
The local authority said the reduced number of visitors across all council-owned sites - Mell Square, Lode Lane and Marks & Spencer - was in line with a decline across the West Midlands as a whole, but they will continue to investigate the causes.
The extent of the shortfall will depend heavily on how much money is raised over the Christmas period; the council typically rakes in 40 per cent of its income during October-December.
Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, said: “It’s early days so we don’t want to get too carried away over this.
“At the same time, we want to encourage people to use the town centre and that’s why we will defer the further increase at Monkspath Hall Road.”
Coun Ken Rushen (Lib Dem, Lyndon) said: “Some of the fall in visitors might be because more people are using public transport - which is good news.
“But I think the main reason is the recession, which has hit all councils and has now been causing problems for several years.”
The local authority is considering various proposals to increase visitor numbers over the crucial few months to come, including holding a formal Christmas lights switch-on for the first time in several years.