THE new boss brought in to revitalise the high street in Slough has issued a damning verdict on the likelihood of 'quality' shops coming to the town.

Shelly Ford gave a frank assessment of the task she faces at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

When responding to a councillor's plea for no more pound stores to be built in the high street, she said: "It would be great to be able to say we only want quality, high-end stores in the town, but the reality is high-end traders will only come into a town if it is exciting, vibrant and if it has the footfall." The town centre manager, who has 10 years of experience in the role at other councils, said: "That's the challenge for Slough now.

"When it's bringing in vibrancy then the high-end retailers may think 'we'll come in'. At the moment they are never going to come in." Ms Ford was questioned by councillor Satpal Parmar, commissioner for environment and open space, who said: "Please no more pound stores in the high street - all you see when you walk through it is pound stores." Councillors agreed to trial a free parking scheme to boost footfall and pump life back into the town centre. Shoppers can park for free in on-street spaces after 3pm from Monday to Friday.

The scheme will start on Thursday (2) and run until August. Councillors also agreed to extend this to council-run town centre car parks if Queensmere Observatory Shopping Centre owners Criterion Capital also agreed to offer free parking.

Council officers are due to meet with shopping centre bosses next week. Cllr James Swindlehurst, commissioner for neighbourhood and renewals, said: "We want to drive people in at the times they might not use it." He added: "We are doing everything we can to sustain a footfall.

"We are driving the investment to bring people in. It is our contribution to keep the town centre alive." The council is also looking at negotiating late night opening hours licences for businesses to create an 'eating culture' that will attract footfall to the high street after 5pm.