SWINDON traders may get the economic boost they need after councillors voted in favour of slashing Parking costs to entice shoppers back to the town.

At a meeting of Swindon Council’s cabinet at the Civic Offices last night, members voted for a dramatic reduction in the cost of parking in Brunel North and West car parks and Old Town’s Bath Road, Britannia Place, Dammas Lane, Prospect Place and The Planks parking areas.

All changes will stand until July 31, 2011 and include slashing town centre parking prices from £4.80 for four hours parking to just £2.

Parking for up to an hour will also be cut from the current £1.20 tariff to £1. In Old Town it will soon cost 70p for up to an hour and £1 to stay between one and two hours.

The cabinet also agreed to consider the provision of a new 850 space car park as part of phase one of the new Muse development in Union Square.

But the decision raised opposition from leader of Swindon’s Labour party Coun Derique Montaut who said it was the standard of the town centre and not high parking prices that were keeping shoppers away.

Coun Andy Harrison agreed: “I’m not sure this proposal will have any benefit in the town,” he said.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t shop in the town centre because I can get everything I need outside of town.

“It’s not always a pleasurable experience to shop in Swindon and I don’t think changing parking charges is enough to change that.

Peter Greenhalgh, cabinet member for sustainability, strategic planning, property and transport, said he hoped the council’s forward thinking decision would give the town the much needed economic boost traders have longed for.

“I think by doing this we will encourage more much-needed dwell time in the town centre and in Old Town which will encourage people to look around all of the shops and see what we have here.

“I am however very disappointed that a councillor, elected by the people of Swindon, doesn’t support the town centre by using it.

“I use the town centre all the time and my wife supports trade there... perhaps too much... but the point is, how can to encourage people to use what we have here and spend time here if you yourself don’t?”

The director of planning and transport at Swindon Council must now assess how long it will take to implement the changes before bringing them into force.