A BODMIN businessman has introduced an even cheaper tariff at his town-centre car park – at the same time as the local authority prepares another hike in charges.
Brian Cook, who runs West End Motors, spent "well into six figures" turning what was the "bomb site" of his former car showroom at Dennison Road into a plush new car park.
The 64-space car park charges 50p an hour or £3 for 12 hours.
The Cornwall Council car park on the opposite side of Dennison Road also charges 50p for the first hour but this week the authority's parking policy advisory panel decided to recommend to the Cabinet new charges, to be introduced next April, which would see the price at 80p for the first hour.
One businessman described that decision last week as "another nail in the coffin of Bodmin".
But Mr Cook has now responded by introducing an even cheaper alternative.
"We are cheaper than the council on almost all categories but we see a need for Bodmin shoppers, who want a very quick visit to the town, to have an even cheaper option.
"We've introduced 30p for 30 minutes. This gives the quick shopper a cheap option to call at the shops," said Mr Cook.
"It is what the town needs. If someone wants to nip into the shops for a loaf of bread or into the chemists they can for just 30p."
Mr Cook used to operate the West End Motors from the site, employing 45 people, but has now moved his Nissan dealership at a cost of £4 million to new premises in Launceston Road.
He decided to demolish the old premises when the previous Government decided full council tax had to be paid on empty properties, which would have cost him £60,000 a year.
"We were wondering what to do with the site and when we looked at the town regeneration plan it was there as a new car park. The council designated their own car park for shops.
"We opened on the old site and then kept to the same charges, despite spending six figures on developing a desolate area.
"30p for 30 minutes is a new category and it is going down well. This afternoon there was not a space free."
Balu Madhvani, who owns Jai the Jeweller on Honey Street, said: "This is wonderful news for Bodmin. He realises the problems businesses face in town centres. Cornwall Council should do the same and reduce their parking charges.
"Bodmin is one of the poorest towns in Cornwall but our parking is more expensive compared with Camelford and Launceston."
Andrew Wallis, the Cornwall councillor who chairs the parking policy advisory panel, said the proposed new charges at the council-owned Dennison Road site had been recommended by a Community Network panel of councillors.
If approved by the Cabinet they would be implemented on March 15 next year.
"A private car park can always undercut the council. The council itself cannot change a car parking fee without going out to public consultation, which is a lengthy and expensive procedure. That is why we only do it once a year."