SHOPPERS are being tempted into the Staffordshire Moorlands three towns with free car parking throughout August.
The initiative, which is set to cost the district council an estimated £46,000 in lost revenue, is aimed at getting footfall back into the town centres after the coronavirus lockdown.
The estimated cost to the authority was contained in a report regarding the ‘Covid-19 Town Centre Recovery – Parking Strategy,’ which was passed by the SMDC cabinet on Monday (July 27).
SMDC executive director (place) Neil Rodgers said in his report: “During the lockdown restrictions (from March 23 until June 6, when high streets re-opened) the parking machines were operational. The weekly tickets issued fell by 86 per cent when compared to the corresponding week in 2019.”
He added: “The financial impact of this has been a significant loss of revenue. However, some of this loss may be recovered from the Government’s recent commitment to reimburse local authorities for income losses due to the pandemic.”
In a table within the report, the financial impact of parking revenue lost across the district was stated as £49,451 in April this year compared to last year, and £44,931 in May.
Free parking for three hours is set to begin on Saturday (August 1). In order for the council to be able to monitor use of the car parks, drivers will still need to display a ticket.
Ticket machines are being adapted to issue a three-hour ticket for which there will be no charge.
Sybil Ralphs, SMDC Leader, and cabinet member for regeneration and finance, said: “The key to a strong recovery is for people to shop locally and support their local businesses.
“We want to support our towns and villages as they start to welcome people back and we’re pleased to be able to do that with this offer of additional free parking.
“We have worked with partners to ensure the appropriate safety measures are in place – including enhanced hygiene regimes and signage in the car parks – to ensure people can have the confidence to use them.
“But I would remind everybody that that virus has not gone away and it remains as important as ever that we all keep the required distance away from others, cleanse our hands regularly and wear face coverings in shops which is now a requirement.”