Shoppers will be able to park free for up to four hours at a popular Burton shopping centre car park after bosses changed the way they charges motorists.
Middleway Park, which includes the Matalan store and Bella Italia restaurant, has operated a ticket system for several years. But many shoppers have parking for free for the last few months after barriers at the entrance to the site were taken out of use in preparation for installing the new automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR).
The car park, off Guild Street in the town centre, also serves Cineworld cinema, Mecca Bingo, DW Sports, as well as Frankie and Benny’s and Nando's restaurants. For many years, shoppers using outlets there can then claim between two and four hours free parking when given a special ticket by the shops following their purchases.
However, this arrangement is set to change and all shoppers will now get up to four hours free parking.
The change comes several months after the car park’s ticket machines were upgraded to accept the new £1 coins and £5 and £10 notes.
Smart Parking has operated the car park at the Middleway for several years.
A spokesman for the firm said: "Using barriers and payment machines, motorists have always needed to either pay or prove they were customers to park there lawfully. However we are now improving the service we offer and allowing all motorists to park their free for up to four hours. For those motorists who wish to park for longer, payments machines will be available.
"We have recently removed the barriers and have installed a state-of-the-art automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system to manage the new service. ANPR works by monitoring the time cars enter and exit the car park, and we expecting the new system to go live this week.
"There are currently several banners and signs positioned around the car park highlighting the new system. We will also have some customer advisers deployed on site during the transfer to the new system."
Burton motorist Steve Sinfield believed the move was a good idea and would encourage shoppers to spend more time in Burton.
He said: "Four hours free parking can only be a good thing for Burton. Especially when traders are still struggling following the closure of St Peter's Bridge. This will encourage shoppers to spend more time in the town."
Smart Parking was unable to confirm which day the changes will start.