Free parking from 9am to 1pm will start from October and run throughout the Christmas and New Year period at Newcastle-under-Lyme’s Midway car park, alongside the popular ‘£1 after 1pm’ incentive scheme.

The incentives are part of an updated Car Parking Strategy (2019-2029) which aims to boost Covid economic recovery plans for the town centre.

The Leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Simon Tagg, said: “We have worked incredibly hard to act on what our residents and businesses have asked us to do, especially in this vital period for the town – make shopping and parking in Newcastle a positive and cost-effective experience.

“We are determined to show our support with these Covid recovery car parking incentives which will benefit shoppers and town centre businesses – and to take the financial hit that goes with it. We have seen the loyalty of our residents as they have come into Newcastle in their numbers to ‘shop local’. We thank them for their amazing support so far and ask them to please continue.”

Stephen Sweeney, Cabinet member for finance, town centres and growth, said: “It has been remarkable and very uplifting to see our residents’ support of the town in very difficult circumstances. The market, in particular, has seen an unprecedented revitalisation since restrictions were lifted. Thousands of people are enjoying the artisan and speciality markets, including on some Sundays and Bank Holidays when parking is always free.”

As well as Covid recovery, the Car Parking Strategy also tackles improving air quality, plans to reduce carbon emissions and the introduction of new technologies to meet residents’ expectations for town centre shopping and parking in 2021 and beyond.

With four key priorities the new strategy aims to: Provide good quality car parks, including the replacement of the Midway with a new 450-space multi-storey as part of the massive Ryecroft development; with electric vehicle charging points and a modern, bright environment.

Improve the customer experience with new, more efficient ticket machines and better CCTV coverage.

Support economic development with free and minimum-cost incentives throughout the year and a simplified, cost-effective permit scheme.

Ensure that car parks meet future demands with joint initiative, the ‘Clean Air Project’ and extended provision of electric charging points on all Council car parks.

Income for parking in 2021/22 is forecast to be £376,319 less than budgeted. The cost of the proposed free before 1pm parking from October 2021 to January 2022 is estimated to be in the region of £53,600.

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