A TRIAL to see whether slashing fees at four car parks across South Lakeland can boost usage has been extended until March.

South Lakeland District Council introduced the lower tariffs in Kirkby Lonsdale, Kendal, Ulverston, and Grange-over-Sands back in July, with some charging 20p for a half-hour stay.

Results so far show that at the Stockbridge Lane car park in Ulverston there had been 3,731 motorists buying 20p tickets, 1,280 at the New Road car park in Kirkby Lonsdale and 2,722 at the Kents Bank Road car park in Grange. At the Blackhall Road car park in Kendal, there have been 620 sales of 50p tickets.

To get more data from drivers, and because it has not caused the council’s income to drop, the trial will continue for four more months.

Coun John Holmes, representing the council’s car park task group, told SLDC’s scrutiny committee that there had been lots of feedback from drivers through the trial – including calls for a reduced charge for a 30- minute stay, although he said that was not always to the advantage of local businesses who wanted shoppers to take time to walk around.

“We need to look at applying a more intelligent method to management, recognising that in certain areas, one size might not fit all but also avoiding too complex a system,” said Coun Holmes.

He added that better signage inside car parks was a priority, and the group would continue to consider aspects including overnight charges, single site permits and enforcement issues.

The group will report back in April 2013, following the conclusion of the trial.

Meanwhile, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced plans to make it a legal requirement for councils to be transparent about parking charges.

Local authorities will have to publish the number of off-street parking places and the revenue raised from them; the number of on-street parking places and the revenue they raise; as well as the revenue from parking fines and the number of free parking spaces available.

The trial tariffs are: Stockbridge Lane Car Park, Ulverston - 20p per hour, 40p for 2 hours, 60p for 3 hours, 80p for 4 hours, £1 for over 4 hours up to 24 hours; Kents Bank Road Car Park, Grange-over-Sands - 20p for the first half hour; New Road 1 Car Park, Kirkby Lonsdale - 20p for the first half hour; Blackhall Road Car Park, Kendal - 50p for the first half hour.