Cheaper on-street parking coming to Staffordshire towns
Free or cheaper on-street parking is being introduced in struggling town centres across Staffordshire to help boost high street trade.
The move which will see existing charges either scrapped or significantly lowered at certain times is aimed at attracting more shoppers into town.
Among the initial locations will be Stafford, Lichfield, Stone and Cannock.
It follows consultation with district and borough councils after Staffordshire County Council agreed the broad strategy in 2015.
Helen Fisher, the county's highways and transportation chief, said: “We’re introducing a strategy designed to improve the turnover of on-street parking spaces in town centres, market towns and village high streets, which will help local businesses and make enforcement easier for us.
"We will be working with each community to introduce a policy that meets local needs.
"That might mean free parking at certain times, or variable charges, to promote local businesses so that people who want to pop in and out rather than use long stay car parks will be able to find somewhere quicker without cruising round and causing congestion."
Although originally approved several years ago, implementation of proposals will be scrutinised by an all-party group of councillors before work begins.
Councillor Fisher said: “A predominantly rural community like Staffordshire is still going to be reliant on the car for many years to come, so it’s essential to develop a strategy that balances the use of short-stay on-street parking and long-term car parks on the edge of town centres.
"Providing the right amount of on-street parking with flexible charging regimes will encourage use of the high street, improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and improve access for disabled motorists.
"But at the same time we must strike a balance with creating a good quality of life for residents, and encouraging pedestrians and cyclists, as well as promoting use of public transport.”
Latest government figures revealed recently that three Staffordshire authorities and four in the Black Country saw bumper profits from council-run car parks and on street charges, such as pay-and-display, residents’ permits and parking tickets.
When the costs of running and maintaining parking services are taken into account, the councils made £5.4m in profit – the highest amount in more than a decade.
The AA has branded parking charges ‘a cash cow’ for local authorities, while campaigners locally have called on councils to stop the ‘stealth tax’ on motorists.
Work to implement the free or cheaper on-street parking will start in April.