SHOPPERS in Bolton town centre were asked what they think of the council’s plans to scrap its free parking scheme.

Currently free parking is available all day at three NCP car parks, the Octagon, Deane Road and Topp Way, on weekends and bank holidays.

Under the new proposals, drivers will be charged £1 to park for up to two hours before normal day tariffs kick in.

Andrew Cornfield, aged 56, from Bolton said: “It doesn’t really encourage people to come into Bolton.

“Quite a lot of regulars have changed their opinion of Bolton anyway so it is the council’s duty to attract more people into the town. I’m quite happy to park further away for free and walk in, but not everyone can do that.”

Terry Smith, also from Bolton, said: “It’s just greed at the end of the day. It’s pushing people out of the town.

“The town centre is finished now. Everything’s online now and you can’t really have both. Shops can’t survive here if they’re competing with online.”

Aaron Dennis, aged 52, from Lostock, said: “I reckon if they start charging, they’ll lose even more trade than they already have.

“They need to think that if they’re going to do anything with the parking, then lower the fees a bit because that will get people to come and spend a little bit more time in the town.

“Whilst it doesn’t affect me, I know a lot more people would come here if it was free.”

Norman Williard, aged 92, from Bradshaw said: “The parking is not very good at the best of times but I don’t think if you change it, it would make much of a difference.

“You’ll see less and less shops on both sides of the town disappear.”

Helen Lockyer, aged 47, from Farnworth said: “It won’t affect me too much but I think about those less fortunate. Older people are getting more and more restricted and the council don’t seem to be helping.

“If the council really want to save the high street, they should keep the parking free. There’s not much going for it now so why give it less?”

If the plans go ahead, the parking charges will rise to £4.60 at Deane Road and £4.10 at Topp Way for four hours or more. At the NCP car park next to the Octagon Theatre, the day tariffs are £4.40 for four to five hours, £4.90 for five to six hours, £5.40 for six to seven hours and £6.10 for seven to 24 hours.

The Market Place shopping centre offers 60 minutes of free parking seven days a week. It will also continue to offer free parking from 5pm every day.

This car park and others across the town have been blamed for a fall in income for the NCP multi-storey car parks of more than 90 per cent, according to the council.