THERE will be no more one hour free parking in Wyre Forest District Council-owned car parks if a new charging structure is approved.

A report going before the council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee tomorrow details plans to implement different car parking charges for Kidderminster, Stourport and Bewdley to better "reflect the local pressures felt" in the three towns throughout the year.

While also introducing cheaper parking charges for regular users and an almost halving of season ticket prices, the council is also planning to scrap the one hour free parking currently available in five district car parks from April 2020.

If approved, visitors to St Mary's Church, Comberton Place and Bromsgrove Street car parks in Kidderminster, Gardner's Meadow in Bewdley and Vale Road in Stourport will have to pay £1 for one hour's parking.

The cost to park for an hour in the council's other car parks would drop from £1.40 to £1.

A council report states that free car parking usage increased by 67 per cent in 2018/19.

It goes on to say that the council declared a climate emergency in May 2019, and "it is felt that removing the free parking will encourage people to think twice about making unnecessary car journeys”.

The paid-for parking period would be extended through to 9pm, and Stourport and Bewdley would see the introduction of seasonal car parking charges for certain times of year.

Previously, the council has promoted a "fair, equitable and consistent" approach to car parking with the same cost structure in every town.

But the report states that "charging the same price in each of the three towns throughout the year does not reflect the local pressures felt in Stourport and Bewdley from the volume of visitors and the costs they impose".

Three hours' parking would increase from £2.80 to £3 in Kidderminster all year round, and in Bewdley and Stourport between November and March.

Between April and October, however, Bewdley and Stourport will see a steeper increase to £4 for three hours' parking.

Parking for between six and 24 hours will drop from £6.90 to £5, but in Bewdley and Stourport between April and October, up to 24 hours' parking will cost drivers £6.

In all three towns, two hours' parking will remain the same at £2, while 24 hours to 48 hours' parking will increase from £9.20 to £10.

A 40 per cent cut is proposed for the cost of a full season ticket - down from £703 to £400 - which, for people parking every weekday, works out at less than £2 a day.

A season ticket rate of £300 for the Bromsgrove Street car park would remain the same and be reviewed after 12 months.

The council says the new band structure will "promote longer dwell times in town centres to continue to support the visitor economy".

Corporate director for economic prosperity and place, Mike Parker, said last week: "The current schedule of charges is complex.

"These proposals aim to simplify the structure of charges and help local residents, visitors and businesses who pay to park in the council’s car parks by reducing or freezing charges.”

Wyre Forest Council made more than £1m from car parking charges in 2018/19, with the highest income coming from two-hour parking payments.

The new proposals would deliver a cost saving for the council, which is currently trying to plug a £2m funding gap.

Cabinet will make a final decision on the proposals on Tuesday, December 17.