A local authority in the West Midlands has shown it is ahead of the curve by offering short-term free parking to boost town centre trade.
Traders have praised Dudley Council for pre-empting the sort of initiatives suggested this week by the minister for the high street, with a two-hour free parking scheme introduced in April.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Jake Berry said he wants councils to rethink how they charge motorists to park in town centre with free short periods of parking possibly helping to bring people back to the high street.
The free parking in Dudley borough is available in all council-owned car parks. It is part of the authority’s continuing drive to boost the number of people visiting town centres and to support local traders.
Roger Scott Dow, who owns Roger Scott Menswear in Dudley town centre, said:
Traders across the borough agree this is the best thing Dudley Council could possibly do to give our town centres a welcome boost.
Not only is it making it easier for people to visit our towns, it is also giving people the choice to shop with and support their local traders once again. This is something that means a lot to our local community.
Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said:
We see this move as an investment in our borough traders and it is now rightly attracting national attention. People have told us that two hours of free parking makes a considerable difference to their daily lives and this move is helping retailers across the borough.
Dudley is the only council across the whole of the West Midlands providing this incentive and we are bucking the national trend, which has seen many local authorities increase car parking charges using the motorist as a cash cow. By taking the lead with initiatives such as this one we are putting Dudley firmly on the map as a great place for business.