It is set to cost a council an estimated £46,000 to operate a free parking initiative which is aimed at getting footfall back into town centres after the coronavirus lockdown. We reported last week that Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) is to offer visitors to its three town centres – of Cheadle, Leek and Biddulph – three hours parking a day throughout the month of August.
It is set to cost a council an estimated £46,000 to operate a free parking initiative which is aimed at getting footfall back into town centres after the coronavirus lockdown.
We reported last week that Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) is to offer visitors to its three town centres – of Cheadle, Leek and Biddulph – three hours parking a day throughout the month of August.
The estimated cost of £46,000 has been stated in a report regarding the authority’s ‘Covid-19 Town Centre Recovery – Parking Strategy’ which was passed by Cabinet delegated decisions on Monday (July 27).
In the report, executive director (place) for SMDC, Neil Rodgers, said: “The cost of the free parking concession during August is expected to be approximately £46,000.
“This is based on the assumed level of income in addition to the expected reimbursement through Government funding that the council would have received in the form of a grant for lost income (75 per cent of lost income after an allowance of five per cent for normal fluctuations).”
Later on in his report, Mr Rodgers said: “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 was stated, for across the district, as minus £49,451 in April this year compared to last year, minus £44,931 in May, and minus £29,850.
The free parking for three hours is set to begin on Saturday (August 1), and in order for the council to be able to monitor use of the car parks drivers will still need to display a ticket when making the most of the free parking – ticket machines are set to be adapted to issue a three-hour ticket for which there will be no charge.
Leader of SMDC, and Cabinet member for regeneration and finance, councillor Sybil Ralphs, said of the free parking initiative: “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.”
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