TWO-HOUR £1.50 minimum stays at nine town centre car parks are to be ditched under a u-turn planned by Mansfield District Council.
The authority wants to bring back cheaper one-hour tickets at the sites just a year after it dropped them in an effort to get people to spend more time and cash in town.
As part of its crucial budget-setting process the council is also proposing no increase to its element of Council Tax bills for 2012 to 2013.
But it will bring in a long-mooted £25 annual fee for emptying the district’s brown garden waste bins.
Senior members will ask full council to approve the changes at a landmark budget-setting meeting next Wednesday.
Portfolio holder for resources Roger Sutcliffe told a cabinet meeting on Monday: “I’ve listened to what the public comments have been and a lot of people have felt aggrieved they have to pay £1.50 for a two-hour stay so I’ve been looking at changing back to one-hour fee options.”
Some business leaders and shoppers gave a warm welcome to the plans yesterday, although some said they do not go far enough.
Minimum £1.50 two-hour stays were introduced by the council at nine town car parks in April 2011 in an effort to encourage people to stay in town for longer, although one-hour options were retained at the Four Seasons and Walkden Street car parks.
Under the plans one-hour fees will be back at Clumber Street and Station Road car parks at 90p, at Handley Arcade, Toothill Lane, Toothill Road and Church Lane for 80p and at Water Meadows, Garden Road and Victoria Street car parks for 70p.
There are no plans to alter the existing free first half hour option at the Old Town Hall car park.
Sarah Newton, manager of the Mansfield Business Improvement District (BID), said: “It’s great they are listening to what the public want and what businesses want and it would be great to see the one-hour stays back.
“It gives people the option again to make a quick visit.”
Craig Eyre, who runs the Eyrie Gallery on Church Street, also welcomed the plan.
“It’s an about-turn really and reducing the minimum fee will help because car parking is such a big issue in town,” he said.
“But one of the things I’d like to see is a pay on exit system in future.”
June Stendall, who runs Finesse Bridal Studio on White Hart Street, also welcomed the u-turn, adding: “I don’t see why people should have to pay for two hours if they only want to come into town for a short while.”
Shoppers also gave the reversal a thumbs-up yesterday.
“It’s an excellent idea; the way I shop I know what I want and I like to go into town and get it done,” said Berry Hill resident John Barsby (66).
“I just don’t usually need to stay for two hours.”
Coun Sutcliffe also outlined how £1.50 would still be charged for two hours as an incentive for longer stays and new overnight parking fees would also be brought in.
He added: “Again we’ve been listening to the public and are proposing to bring in evening charges at Handley Arcade, Toothill Lane and Toothill Road at £2 between 6.30pm and 8am.
“People working in the night-time economy have been asking if they can have some concessions and we are also trying to encourage people who want to go to the theatre or dine out.”
Next Wednesday’s meeting will also see the authority outline how it plans to handle cuts in its funding and try to create economic growth with a £138,000 fund to be spent on developing apprenticeships.
The authority first proposed the brown bin collection fee late last year.
If the fee is approved next week those who do not wish to pay for the service will be able to opt out.
What do you think about the proposals? Comment at Chad.co.uk, on our Facebook profile or tweet @chadchrisbreese on Twitter. For a full guide to next week’s budget meeting and a summary of your responses see next Wednesday’s edition of Chad (25th January).