MORRISONS say they will meet with Solihull Council but refuse to bow to pressure over car parking fees.
The supermarket currently provide three hours free parking, sparking concern it is drawing custom away from other town centre car parks, particularly as the council are looking to increase one, two and three hour tariffs by 10p and the night rate by 20p.
Coun Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, said he hoped to encourage the supermarket to become “an inclusive part of the town centre” by charging a minimum tariff for car parking.
A report, presented to Coun Richards this week, conceded raising car park fees could push drivers to “seek alternative parking or travel arrangements” and suggests the council “explore any further opportunities to work with supermarkets and hotels to try and reduce the current level of free parking within the town centre.”
It also proposes reducing the all-day rate at Mell Square to compete with Touchwood.
A Morrisons spokesperson said they would meet with the council, but had no plans to change their own tariff which benefited their customers.
“We always like to be able to provide free parking for our customers meaning they can shop with us and visit other places in the town centre,” they said.
“We are aware that car parking charges have been increased in the area and will be meeting with the council to see whether this affects us.”
Concerns about the Morrisons’ policy were raised by members last month.
Coun Richards said: “If they decide to play ball, it would be helpful if they bring in a system to stop people using their car park for other uses.
“They need to go back to the old arrangement, where if you park there, you have to go to Morrisons. Unfortunately we have no control over what they want to do.
“We have got a town centre partnership where we have tried to work with all the retailers, and ourselves, to have a common car parking system. They are outside that arrangement.
“All we can do, at the end of the day, is to try and work with them to encourage them to become an inclusive part of the town centre. We’re really relying on their good will.”
l What do you think? Should Morrisons ‘play ball’ with the council? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Solihull News, Floor 6, Fort Dunlop, Erdington, B24 9FF