FREE parking on Barry Island is being under advertised and under used, a business owner has said.

Mark Vockins, owner of Quasar, said that by consistently closing half of the Nell's Point car park during the off season the amount of visitors to the island is restricted.

He added that he believed the fact that parking is free from October 1 until March 14 is something that is not prominently advertised, with many visitors deciding against entering the car park, thinking they have to buy a ticket.

"I see people drive around and around looking for somewhere to park because they don't realise the car park is free," he said. "Usually they give up and drive over to Porthkerry or the Knap.

"There's a sign in the car park saying it's free but you only see that when you're already in there. If you think you've got to pay you won't go in there in the first place."

On top of this issue Mark said that he couldn't understand why half of the car park is closed off during the autumn and winter.

He said: "We lose a lot of business in the winter months but you've got Christmas and the school holidays in February, all the weekends in-between. People do come down here.

"Last weekend someone told me they had to park in a coach space because the car park was so full. If any coach turns up then they wouldn't be able to park.

"I can't understand why they would spend all this money on the car park and then only open half of it. It's ridiculous."

A Vale Council spokeswoman said that the car park is partially closed off due to safety and nuisance concerns and cannot be opened unless there is a council attendant on site.

"Part of the car park is currently closed off, but it has spaces for approximately 220 cars even when part is closed," she said. "The car park is closed off during the winter and summer unless there is a requirement to open the additional areas.

"The purpose of closing the car park off is for safety and nuisance protection. The additional areas within the car park are not opened unless the council has attendants on site."

She added that a sign indicating that parking is free is being considered for display at the car park entrance.

She said: "The car park at present has no signage saying that it is free to park, but also there is no signage stating any charges.

"However we will consider installing signage at the entrance, stating it free to park during this winter season."