TRADERS in Swindon are delighted at Swindon Council’s decision to slash car Parking charges in a bid to entice shoppers back into the town centre and Old Town.

Businesses claim the high costs have long discouraged shoppers from visiting and say the dramatic reductions will mean people will visit more regularly and stay for longer.

Swindon Council’s cabinet voted on Wednesday night to cut 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.

Meanwhile in Old Town it will soon cost 70p for up to an hour and £1 to stay between one and two hours.

Clair Prosser, policy executive at Swindon Chamber of Commerce, said: “Swindon chamber welcomes this significant decrease, particularly if it is across various town centre car parks.

“The reason for this is it is essential that we get businesses and shoppers and as many people back into the town centre as possible and this is clearly a measure to do this.”

Ms Prosser said the reduced charges would not only combat competition from out-of-town shopping centres and rival towns, but would also help to turn shopping in Swindon into a day out experience.

“We want as much money to be spent in the town centre as possible so this measure will encourage a longer visiting period,” she said.

“This means people aren’t just popping in to get things from budget shops but they are spending money in other shops and enjoying drinks at cafes.”

Dan Stabbins, owner of Old Town Hardware in Wood Street, Old Town, said: “I would be in favour of the changes because car parking charges are one of the biggest problems for traders around here.

“We would prefer no charges of course but we would accept that in order to maintain the parking there are costs involved.

“It will definitely encourage people to stay longer because it is not going to cost them so much.

“We are still slightly in recession and everyone is counting the pennies but soon people will be able to come up here and do whatever job it is they have got to do, and it itn’t going to cost them nearly as much money.”

Lisa Connolly, assistant manager at Aqua-G hairdressers in the Brunel centre, also agreed the changes would improve trade.

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.