A plan to revitalise Hamilton's CBD by offering two hours free on-street parking to draw shoppers back in has backfired, with some residents labelling it a rip-off and suggesting a boycott.

From this week Hamilton City Council will give motorists two hours free on-street parking and then charge $1 for every 10 minutes thereafter, which equates to $6 an hour for the subsequent three hours.

The new charges were posted on the Hamilton Waikato Regional News and Views Facebook page after Mania Oriwia suggesting the reason for the first two hours being free was because of the much higher charges for people who stayed longer.

"The reason is this - $1 for every 10 minutes if you ever think it's too good to be true - well it is," she said.

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The group has then suggested users boycott parking in the city, saying: "Hamilton City Council, you can't be serious! $1 = 10 minutes!?? What's up with this."

But councillor Dave Macpherson, who chairs the growth and infrastructure committee, said they had got the wrong end of the stick.

He said on average people would be getting parking a lot cheaper as the average length of time most shoppers parked on the street was just over an hour.

"Those shoppers instead of paying $4, $2 an hour - will be paying nothing."

He said the aim was to keep on-street parking clear for shoppers and workers could park in carparking buildings as those charges had not changed.

"The whole idea of this is to rotate the parking against the shoppers more. What the big problem Hamilton had was workers in the central city using the cheap parking on the street. So it's a two-edged sword - two hours parking for shoppers for two hours and much heavier policing of the workers in the central city."

A new system would also be used to make sure workers were not beating the system by moving their cars every two hours.

But councillor Angela O'Leary, who along with councillors Leo Tooman and Garry Mallett voted against the trial, believed it was flawed and did not think it would make a difference.

"The message might be two hours free parking, but the reality is it is $6 an hour after that. People will get caught. I think the message is fraught and will only create more ill-will towards the CBD."

She did not think the plan was well thought out and said once you've sent a message out, it was impossible to reverse it.

The trial runs from October 1 and will be reviewed before the end of June next year.

The city council reviewed parking in the CBD as part of the Central City Transformation Plan which is a long-term plan to bring people back into the city.