CUTTING parking charges at Bradford's Broadway shopping centre has increased weekly footfall by an average of 60,000 its general manager has revealed.

Ian Ward told delegates at this week's YEN Expo business conference and exhibition at Bradford College that the move helped to reverse a difficult trading period for the centre, which will celebrate its first anniversary on November 5.

Mr Ward, who moved to Bradford from running several Liverpool retail centres in March, said: "The shopping centre opened with the wrong pricing concept for car parking. That harmed footfall for the first three or four months.

"It was apparent when I arrived that something needed to be done about that. It is a five storey car park with 1,300 spaces. On my first day the cars never got higher than the second level.Today, the car park is full to level four on a daily basis since charges were cut to £3 a day during the week and £1.50 on weekends.

"The footfall over the last seven months has risen by 60,000 a week on average, which is well ahead of expectations. The new parking charges excellent value for money and have drawn in footfall through strong marketing and events."

One such event was a recent student discount event on Thursday evening which saw 10,000 young people queueing outside the Broadway.

Speaking in a panel discussion on Bradford's future, Mr Ward said 69 per cent of retailers in the Broadway were new to Bradford and several more were due to open in the next few weeks.

He also revealed that seven restaurant operators were vying to run four units in the new leisure and cinema complex being developed next to the Broadway centre.

But Mr Ward described Broadway as work in progress and warned that it should not be seen as Bradford's saviour. It was one part of a jigsaw in the city's regeneration, though a key one.

The challenge was to break and change people's routines if they regularly shopped in Leeds or elsewhere. That needed new initiatives and activities.

He said the problems facing Darley Street since the Broadway opened reflected what happened in Liverpool in 2009 when the Liverpool One centre opened.

"That decimated the Clayton Square shopping centre at top end of town as 16 out of 24 retailers moved to Liverpool One. Clayton Square and the surrounding area has been regenerated and Liverpool is a transformed city centreand the city has 28 million visitors a year and is one of the UK's top three shopping destinations," said Mr Ward.