Chorley’s town centre car parks will see their charges shaken up in a bid to entice more shoppers into the town.
Short stay car parks will see tariffs reduced from 70p for an hour to 50p for an hour, and free parking will be introduced after 1pm every Saturday.
Free parking will also be brought forward to start at 5pm every day on both long and short stay car parks. It is currently free to park on all car parks after 6pm.
But under the changes Chorley busiest car park, the Flat Iron, will see a rise in charges.
It currently costs 70p to park for one hour and £1 to park for three hours.
Shoppers will soon be able to park for one hour for 50p, but will instead pay £1 for two hours.
Town centre bosses say this move will increase turnover on Chorley’s busiest car park.
Coun Peter Wilson, deputy leader of Chorley Council, said: “We have spent a number of weeks listening to traders and shoppers in the town and establishing what they think would make it more attractive to come to Chorley.
“We think that in these difficult economic times we have a responsibility to do what we can to keep people in the town.
“One of the things we can do to help is to look at car parking charges.
“We hope this will be more attractive for shoppers in Chorley.”
Coun Wilson defended the move to increase charges on the Flat Iron, saying the wanted to encourage shoppers to use the town’s other car parks.
He said: “The charges on the Flat Iron will go up to £1 for two hours because we want to increase the turnover.
“That’s the busiest car park and we want to keep in turning over and increasing the amount of people we can get in.”
The trial is set to begin in September and a review of the move will then be taken in January.
Under the move, shoppers will also be able to park on short stay car parks for an extra hour, bringing the total time they are able to stay to four hours.
Town traders have welcomed the news, saying a move to bring in more free parking will bring Chorley in line with other towns, including Blackburn, which has announced more free parking at weekends.
Malcolm Allen, owner of Malcolm’s Musicland on Chapel Street and chairman of Chorley Traders’ Alliance, said: “We are happy with this.
“Everyone has different opinions when it comes to car parking and we have tried to reach a compromise and make it as simple as possible.
“If there are any problems, people can always come and talk to us as traders, and when we come to review this in January we can take it into consideration.
“There is an element of free car parking with this, and that has got to be good news for traders.”
Coun Peter Goldsworthy, leader of Chorley’s opposition Conservative group, said: “I am very concerned about these changes. What the previous system tried to do was to get people that came into Chorley to stay in Chorley. If you give a cheaper tariff for a shorter time then people might be tempted to go in and straight out again. Everybody would welcome free parking, but it has to be paid for somehow.”