A decision to change the flat rate of parking in the evening at a popular shopping centre has been met with criticism by shoppers.

intu Watford will now be bringing in a new £2 flat rate to replace the £1 per hour rate.

This comes at the same time the centre will be running an ongoing campaign which offers cinema goers a flat £2 pound charge to park and leave at any time between 5pm until 3am.

Announcing the change on its Facebook page, the centre posted: “We've introduced £2 parking after 5pm, woohoo.

“Eat, shop and play for longer.”

The new charging scheme which is now in place before 5pm has met criticism online.

Some users are unhappy that they will no longer be able to pay just £1 for a quick trip to the shops.

Some commenters said the fee was too high in comparison to other locations and even mentioned the free parking at Brent Cross.

Jason Duggan wrote: “intu Chapelfield, Norwich, do this for £1.60 flat rate after 3am.

Why can't it be the same across the board for all your car parks.”

Duncan Smith posted: “Still £2 too much if you want to use the cinema.”

Claire Weide said: “Cost me £4 in parking last week just to visit the opticians in Boots.

“Haven’t used Harlequin parking in years, now I know why.

“I’m back to parking in Waterfields, Tesco or Sainsbury’s where it is free and my car fits in the parking space.”

One person who criticised the move said that older people such as retirees may be penalised by the move.

Linda Brooks said: “The car parking charges have just increased by 100 per cent. From today it is £2 for the first 2 hours.

“They have done away with the £1 for the first hour.

“This is outrageous - I feel we are being penalised for only staying in the shopping centre for under an hour.

“This charge will stop people using the centre particularly those who are retired who will view £2 as an extortionate amount.”

The centre’s website says: “Please note, the £2 after 5pm fee is only applicable to intu Watford car parks (Charter, Palace, Kings, Queens).

“Last entry to Palace, Kings and Queens is at 9pm with the car park closing at 10pm.

"Charter car park is open 24 hours a day with the offer applicable up until 3am, when the standard tariff will then apply.”

Vicki Costello, general manager at intu Watford, said: "We know that changing our car parking tariff isn’t necessarily news that people want to hear, but our car parks still remain as one of the cheapest places to park in Watford Town Centre. 

"Due to the new restaurant and leisure offering at intu Watford we have introduced a £2 flat rate fee after 5pm, so that our customers can come to Watford and enjoy these new exciting offerings and park within our centre at an extremely reasonable rate."

Update: This article was originally published saying the £1 charge is to be replaced with a £2 fee after 5pm. 

And mistakenly stated it will run until 3pm, this, in reality, is 3am.

The new flat £2 charge after 5pm is part of a separate campaign that the centre has just put in place at the same time as the new parking scheme. 

This caused confusion and the article has now been corrected.