Free parking idea for Lincoln rejected by council leader Ric Metcalfe
City of Lincoln Council leader Ric Metcalfe has rejected any notion of introducing free parking in Lincoln, as new charges are agreed from April 1.
The council, which nets about £4 million annually from parking, is waging a price war on commercial operators to keep costs down.
New tariffs have been approved at its 19 car parks to entice commuters, shoppers and visitors and offer better value for money.
A report to the council's ruling executive added that "there is some unquantifiable potential to increase car park patronage following the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement".
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Free parking in Brigg has seen shopper numbers double and, as the Echo reported, Conservative county councillor Richard Davies called for a Lincolnshire-wide roll-out.
But Cllr Metcalfe, leader of the city council and a Labour member for the city's Glebe ward, said parking in Lincoln is a "different ball game."
"Making our car parks free is totally unrealistic," he said.
"We are in a totally different ball game from little market towns in Lincolnshire that talk about free parking.
"We are a county city that serves a retail population of 240,000 and a travel to work population of 160,000.
"Parking is not a statutory responsibility of the council, but has become an important source of income to help pay for all the services that people want their council to provide in Lincoln. We are the biggest provider of on-street parking in the city.
"NCP is still a significant presence in the market. We have very distinctive offers and we are trying to cater for the different needs of shoppers, visitors and commuters."
A new £2.50 all day weekend parking fee has been agreed at Broadgate, Rosemary Lane, Sessions House and County Offices – 653 spaces in total.
The charge at shopper car parks including Tentercroft Street has been frozen for 2013/14 at £1.50 for the first hour and £2.50 for two hours, while the three-hour tariff rises to £4.
All other costs for shoppers remain the same, apart from a rise to £3 at Lucy Tower in the evening.
Season tickets have been frozen for the year and the all day commuter charge at Broadgate, Chaplin Street and Rosemary Lane cut to £4.
Three hours' parking for visitors at the Castle, Westgate, The Lawn and Langworthgate rises by 20p to £4.20 and the all day levy increases from £6 to £7.
And Rosemary Lane will have a £2 all day tariff in July and August when Lincoln College is shut.
David Hodson, of Ian Keat Jewellers, in The Strait, said: "The council should be looking at an element of free parking, for example the first hour free."