Cannock Chase Council is already counting the cost of £550,000 lost income during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, which also saw a rise in spending to support the district’s most vulnerable residents through the crisis.
Car parking charges are one of the council income streams to be hit since March.
At this month’s full council meeting member Paul Startin put forward a motion to review car parking fees in a bid to encourage visitors back to the town centres to support the local economy.
He said: “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact in our local communities. This impact is not only on health, it is also socially and economically damaging. The repercussions may be felt for a long time.
“The sheer nature of a public health pandemic means much of the recovery is beyond our control. However, we can have a positive influence over our town centres.
“I propose a review be undertaken in respect of car parking charges and, whilst that review takes place, a parking charge holiday of three months. This would increase footfall and help to attract people back into our local towns.
“It would show traders that we are on their side and it would encourage people to visit and shop locally."
The motion received support from several fellow councillors – but went on to be defeated by just one vote – the casting decision made by chairman Alan Dudson after the main vote resulted in a tie.
Council leader George Adamson said: “No-one likes paying car parking charges but we have to – it’s vital to support services for residents. We are still looking to install contactless payment machines and pay by phone to make it safer to use our car parks.
“It’s easy to say ‘we will have a car parking charge holiday’ but the potential cost is up to £65,000 a month for the council tax payers of Cannock Chase."