SHOP owners in Truro have accused Cornwall Council of “trying to bankrupt” the city following tariff changes in a car park which now means anyone parking over three hours is clobbered for a £31.50 payment.

There was previously no extra charge to park longer than three hours in Old Bridge Street short-stay car park, although you could be stung by a £25 fine.

From April 1, anyone parking in what is known locally as the “shoppers’ car park” has had to pay £31.50 if they exceed three hours between 9am and 6pm.

The council hopes to dissuade motorists from “clogging up” the car park, but the new policy has drawn criticism from traders and people who use it regularly.

Spencer Morris runs Gallery No 2 in St Mary’s Mews. ““It’s scaring people away – it feels like the council is trying to bankrupt this city,” he said.

“They’ve done that for the sake of a few persistent parkers, and I admit I’m one of them. A few of us who have businesses near the car park have been asking the council for permits to park there for the last five years.

“We need to park, unload and deliver everything from paintings and tables to sideboards and chairs. It’s really difficult to do that here without using that car park, and yet they refused.”

He added: “I know it’s affecting trade there now – the car park’s almost empty at the moment. It never would have been like that before they changed the tariff. Customers have told us they are looking at the price and deciding not to park there now.”

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said Old Bridge Street car park at in Truro remains as a short stay car park with its three-hour parking limit unchanged.

“We were finding that a significant number of motorists were parking here all day and essentially clogging up the car park, when its purpose is to encourage a turnover of spaces and in turn increase footfall to the city centre.

“To address this and dissuade motorists from overstaying the three-hour limit, an ‘up to 24hr’ tariff has been introduced.”