Visitors to Falmouth and Penryn will not have to delve into their pockets if they are making a flying visit, with a trial of 'free' parking for the first half hour.
After years of being accused of hiking fees and treating locals and visitors as a cash cow, Cornwall Council has announced a new scheme offering free parking for half an hour in all car parks it runs, but only if you use your mobile phone.
The 'RingGo' system is not free, while there is no charge for registering with RingGo and no charge for downloading or using the RingGo iPhone and Android applications, when you park your vehicle with RingGo, you generally pay a 20p convenience charge on top of the normal parking tariff charges which apply.
If you call RingGo, the number used is a geographic one, so you are charged the standard rate agreed with your mobile phone operator. These calls can be included free in mobile phone packages, so if you receive a free “bundle of minutes”, your call will usually be included within this.
If you use the RingGo “text to park” option, you will pay for the text message at your agreed operator rate. You will also pay a 10p charge for the summary text message (which you automatically receive), providing confirmation of your parking session details.
The optional parking session confirmation messages and reminder texts (alerting you when your session is about to run out), cost 10p per message.
The offer, which begins on March 1 and runs until April 20, has been developed in response to calls from some local businesses for a free first half hour of parking to allow people to make a flying visit to their local town centre.
The council says it will be monitoring the response to this offer to assess how much demand there is for free half hour parking and where that demand is greatest.
“It is very important that car parks should contribute to the competitive environment of our town centres, and that the council should manage the car parks to support local businesses” said Bert Biscoe, the council’s cabinet member for transport and waste.
“These trials are an effort to understand what measures, when and in which places, we can use in future to enhance trading, improve accessibility for people needing to come into town centres for services, and to sustain car parks income to contribute to the maintenance of the road network.”
The council says it would be too costly to change the pay and display machines in all the council run car parks for this trial, so anyone wanting to take advantage of the offer will need to use the RingGo mobile phone payment service.
First time users will be required to provide some initial information and can register online at www.ringgo.co.uk.
The free half hour parking is the latest in a series of car parking trials which are currently being implemented by the Council.
• Reduced season ticket charges in Council run car parks in 45 towns and villages across Cornwall.
• Changes to the winter parking charges in Bude and St Ives
• Reduction in day charges in less well used car parks in Liskeard and Penzance
• Changes to the tariff structure in car parks in Hayle and Camborne and one car park in St Austell.
Other measures in place to support town centres include a trial of a £1 evening charge after 6pm in Penzance, Newquay and Falmouth. Members of the public can also park for £1 after 4pm in some short stay car parks in Truro and St Austell, while some other towns have free parking after 4pm.
Please check the details on tariff boards in individual car parks for more information.
A council spokesman said: "The results of both this trial and the other parking trials which are taking place across Cornwall will be analysed to assess the level of demand and to get feedback from members of the public and businesses. This information will then be used to plan future parking charges and future offers."