MORE free 45-minute parking bays are expected to be created in Worcester, it has emerged.

The city has 24 spaces where motorists can leave their cars for that time period without paying.

Now the city centre’s streets, and those immediately surrounding it, will be reviewed to see where demand for free short-term spaces is highest.

It comes just two weeks after Worcester City Council confirmed car parking prices were being slashed to as little as 40p for half-an-hour to boost trade.

The free spaces review, which will be led by Worcestershire County Council, is expected to lead to single yellow lines being removed to free up room for extra bays.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, who leads the city council and is deputy leader at County Hall, said: “I believe there are areas with single yellow lines where it would be possible to create 45-minute parking.

“What we now need to do is look at this on an individual street basis, to see where there is likely to be demand for it.

“I think, particularly in areas right on the edge of that core city centre, there could be opportunities for this.

“You can’t create these instantly, as free bays require new traffic regulation orders to be in place first, and we would not seek to remove disabled or loading bays.

“It will be a careful balancing act in order to satisfy all of those competing needs, but we do think it can be looked at.”

The cuts in parking rates, which will apply from February, mean drivers will be able to park for only £1 after 7pm in council-owned sites, and will pay from 40p for 30 minutes.

St Martin’s Gate is the other major change, where all-day parking will be £3.60 compared with £6 now.

Coun Geraghty did want the lower prices to be in place from January, but staff need time to alter the signs.

Coun Paul Denham, deputy leader of Worcester’s Labour group, had been calling for the first hour to be free at St Martin’s Gate but this proposal was rejected on the grounds it would mean anywhere from £200,000-£800,000 in lost revenue.

He said: “Once the 45 minutes are up, you’ve got to move your car – the very reason I wanted an hour’s free parking was to encourage people to then pay to stay for longer.”