NEW restrictions could be imposed on town centre streets in a bid to deter commuters and workers from using them as a free car park.
The move would also be coupled with efforts to encourage owners of existing car parks, such as the Kingfisher Shopping Centre and the borough council owned Trafford Park, to offer cheaper day, weekly and monthly price deals to entice motorists to pay to leave their vehicles in official spaces rather than clog up residential areas.
The recommendations are part of a town centre parking study by consultants Integrated Transport Planning, commissioned and paid for out of the divisional fund of Redditch North county councillor Graham Vickery.
Restrictions could include parking permits on some roads with Plymouth Road, Elm Road, Ludlow Road, Mount Pleasant, Bromfield Road and Easemore Road highlighted as priority areas, but only if residents agree.
Another option is the use of limited waiting time restrictions to allow on-street short stay parking which may or may not be charged and support should be given to encourage workers to cycle, walk or use the bus where possible.
The study found the biggest problem was not a lack of car parking space in the town centre but motorists refusing to use it because they did not want to pay, particularly due to the high charges imposed for long stays.
The Kingfisher Shopping Centre’s day rate is £10 but a significant discount is available for workers, however its seven car parks are rarely close to all being full.
London Midland charges £4.50 a day, £46 a month and £465 a year but its car park at Redditch Railway Station is only ever 60 to 65 per cent full, while other car parks near the town centre charge between £4 and £5 a day.
Coun Vickery told the Standard having received numerous complaints from residents about parking issues over the last two years it was clear an overarching plan was needed to avoid pushing the problem into other areas.
“What I hadn’t anticipated was the fact car parking is sufficient in terms of capacity but is not being used and that’s a different take on the problem which has got to be faced up to,” he said.
But such moves are likely to meet resistance from town centre workers and car park owners who will be reluctant to drop their prices too far.
Worcestershire County Council will now work with other interested organisations to devise a set of proposals which the public will then be consulted on, although there is no timetable for when that will happen.
Redditch Borough Council will discuss the report at a future executive committee meeting while Redditch Town Centre Partnership is currently considering its response.
A TCP spokesman said: “While we acknowledge the problem it’s important any future proposals balance the needs of town centre workers and residents.”