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STAFFORDSHIRE: Free Saturday parking in run up to Christmas

STAFFORDSHIRE: Free Saturday parking in run up to Christmas

A Google Street View Image Of The Market Street Car Park In Rugeley

Shoppers visiting Rugeley and Cannock town centres during the festive season will get an early Christmas present with the return of free parking on Saturdays.

Cannock Chase Council-run car parks will be free for motorists on December 4, 11 and 18, cabinet members heard at their meeting on Thursday (November 11).

Approval was given as an urgent decision and the free Saturday parking will be offered in addition to the discount scheme available on other days of the week for shoppers.

The decision notice said: “Historically, each year the council has allowed for free parking on the two or three Saturdays before Christmas in December.

“This provision was in recent years included within the leader’s speech to council in the previous February.  It was not included in the former leader’s speech in February 2021 and therefore authorisation for the provision is required.

“Consideration was given to not offering free parking for the three Saturdays during December, but it was felt by the leader that it was an important provision to encourage shoppers into our town centres at this time of year, especially following the difficulties experienced by small retail providers and businesses due to the Covid pandemic.

“Consideration was also given to the impact of the Council’s car park incentive scheme on shopper numbers during December, however it was believed that this additional provision would further enhance shopper numbers and average shopping visit times compared to that scheme alone.”

Council leader Olivia Lyons said: “I feel it’s really imperative we continue this offer this year, particularly coming out of the pandemic. Offering free parking alongside another scheme we have in respect of car parking is increasing footfall in town centres.

“This is an opportunity to encourage shoppers back into the town centres and shop locally. Our traders are in need of it more than ever.”

Councillor Mike Sutherland, cabinet member for district development, said: “I totally and utterly endorse what you have said. I was stunned when it was omitted (in February). I’m glad that you have brought this today.

“Traders always give good feedback and it gets residents shopping locally.”

Last month cabinet members agreed to extend the parking payback scheme, introduced in the summer as a three-month pilot project using Government funding given to the council to support businesses affected by pandemic restrictions.

The scheme will now continue into January 2022 and shoppers can get a £2 discount on their parking costs in Rugeley or Cannock.if they spend at least £5 in a participating business.

Councillor Phil Hewitt, cabinet member for innovation and High Streets, said “I am delighted that this initiative has been extended.  There are lots of activities planned in the run up to Christmas with events, Christmas light switch ons and additional markets.

“I hope that with this initiative and all the events planned, that our small businesses and traders will benefit from the extra trade. The discount scheme will now run until 30 January 2022.”

Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter

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