FREE parking could finally come to the Cotswolds next year in a pilot scheme to be launched by the council.
Cotswold District Council cabinet member for parking Cllr Chris Hancock has made the decision to suspend all charges in council-owned car parks in the district on Mondays and Tuesday in January and February 2015.
The idea, brought forward last week, has been met with outstanding support from residents and business owners in the area, many of whom have been lobbying for cheaper parking charges for years.
“It’s a brilliant idea,” said Cirencester resident April Collins. “Anywhere parking is free is just a brilliant idea.”
Mayor of Cirencester Joe Harris has shown his support for the initiative. A week before the decision was made he launched his own social media campaign, calling for free parking in Cirencester town on weekday afternoons.
"This is a start. Ultimately what we want to see is a long term commitment to reformed parking," he said.
"We want to see fewer parking charges so more people use the town. This is good news."
CDC came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed that the council made a profit of £10million in car parking charges across the district since 2006.
Cllr Hancock said the free afternoon parking trial, set to start in January, is just the beginning and will hopefully lead on to more free parking across the Cotswolds in the future.
“Will it make a difference?” he said. “I hope it does. This has been planned for some time. The council set aside some money back in February to promote parking.
“This is an initiative to try and encourage people into the town.”
He went on to say Monday and Tuesday afternoons in the first two months of next year were chosen because they will be the quietest, and the times businesses will struggle the most.
Cricklade resident Clair Armstrong said the current parking charges in Cirencester put her off coming to shop in the town.
“It’s dearer here than in Swindon so I often go to Swindon instead of Cirencester,” she said. “I would definitely come here if there was free parking."
Another resident, Andrew Mitchell, said he had only just moved to the town from North Wales and was astounded by the parking charges.
"It's 50p for half an hour and then £1.30 for one hour. How do you work that out?" he said. "It was cheaper in North Wales."
After the trial takes place, councillors will be meeting to discuss the effectiveness of the scheme.
Cllr Hancock added: “It’s a question of whether the council put further funds aside.”
What do you think about the free afternoon parking trial? Leave your comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org