Free parking offered by several councils to begin within weeks to add ‘incentive to shop’

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Local councils have either brought forward existing schemes or introduced policies which will see car park prices cut to encourage shoppers to visit. The actions have been put into place after the announcement of a second national lockdown set to start on Thursday just weeks after the first one came to a close.

Sedgemoor Council

All council-owned car parks will be made completely free in the run-up to Christmas with prices slashed across Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Highbridge and Cheddar.

Pieces will be axed on every Saturday before the run-up to Christmas Day meaning drivers can stop their cars for free on December 5, 12 and 19.

It has been estimated that the council will lose around £4,600 in parking revenue on each day prices are reduced.

Sedgemoor Council said the new scheme had been launched to “support” traders and give residents an “added incentive to shop locally”.

A statement said: “Especially given the additional impacts of Covid-19 on the local economy, Sedgemoor District Council is keen to support our many local and varied traders in the towns and villages across Sedgemoor and give residents and visitors an added incentive to shop locally in the festive season.”

Scarborough

Residents in Scarborough can enjoy seven days of free parking before Christmas with prices cut on Sundays and Thursdays across December.

Parking costs will also be cut on Christmas Eve so locals can search for those last-minute items without watching the clock.

Scarborough Borough Council has confirmed that charges will be lifted across some of their car parks from 3pm on Thursday 3, 10, 17 and 24 December.

Prices will also be cut between 11am to 4pm on Sunday 6, 13 and 20 December to encourage visitors.

A report outlining the plans said: “The practice of offering some form of free parking on the Council’s off-street car parks during the Christmas period had become established over the years.

“It is estimated that the cost to the council on concessions is in the region of £12,000 (less VAT).”

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Leicester

Blaby Council has confirmed that drivers can enjoy two hours of free parking to support business recovery.

Drivers can also enjoy reduced parking costs for later visits with a three-hour stay priced at just 50p and four hours charged at £1.50.

Councillor Sharon Coe said: “Car parks in Blaby have been free throughout the pandemic as part of our ongoing work with town centre businesses to support their recovery during this time.

“We have said throughout that whilst on-street bays are closed to aid social distancing in Blaby Town Centre we would keep car parks free. This ensures our long-term commitment to this pledge.”

Kidderminster

Wyre Forest District Council have confirmed all council-run car parks will be free after 3pm between 20 November and 3 January.

Signs will be put up at entrances to the car parks and information about the free service will be displayed at ticketing machines.

Councillor John Thomas said: “We normally charge until 9pm in our car parks, this offer means motorists can park in any of our car parks for free from 3pm.

“During the new national restrictions, all non-essential shops will be closed so please only travel for essential journeys.”

Copeland

Copeland Council has brought forward its free parking plans with costs slashed from Thursday until the New Year.

They have confirmed charges will be suspended from 5 November to 3 January to help assist “critical town centre businesses” and the NHS.

Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland said: “Our provision of free parking is to assist the NHS and those who are leading the fight against coronavirus, including staff of critical town centre businesses that must remain open, including food shops, doctor’s surgeries and pharmacies, and the residents who need to use them.

“We had planned to offer free parking throughout December, and we intend to honour this pledge to encourage residents to shop local and support our whole business community when it is safe for them to reopen.”

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