In a bid to draw more people to Darlington town centre, car parks in Darlington could be free for two hours, if councillors vote in favour of a new proposal.
Following a review into how Darlington Borough Council can provide extra support to the town centre, the two hours of free parking would be made available to all vehicles using council-owned long-star car parks.
After the two hours, an additional hour will be £1, while an all-day ticket will continue to be £4.
Another proposed change will see East Street car park (the multi-storey above Wilkos) return to £2 for the whole day, if the review into car parking charges in the town centre is agreed by cabinet.
The proposals will go before the cabinet on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018.
The first two hours free will also apply on Sundays, with a £1 fee for the rest of the day. Short-stay car parks will continue to be £1 for the day.
Councillor Nick Wallis, cabinet member for leisure and transport, said: “In the fight against the threat of online shopping, the council is playing its part to promote Darlington town centre trade.
“These proposals have been in the pipeline for a little while now and while it is not a response to the unfortunate news that M&S is looking to close its Darlington store, our work to provide extra support to the town centre has taken on a new vigour.”
Wallis continued: “We hope Darlington residents, and shoppers from outside the town alike, will make good use of the two hours and take the time to enjoy all that our town centre has to offer, whether that is retail or leisure, or simply taking the time to explore areas they might not otherwise visit, such as the yards or Grange Road.”
The review of long-stay car parking charges comes as part of a series of initiatives by the council to make the town centre a more welcoming place to visit in the face of changing shopping habits.
Other changes made in recent weeks include extra street cleaning in and around the town centre, restrictions on charity fundraisers (also known as chuggers) and the introduction of a town centre manager, who will work closely with retailers and business owners as a direct link with the council.
Motorists using the two hours free parking offer will need to obtain a ticket from the machine and clearly display it inside their vehicle to show what time they arrived. The free offer is restricted to one ticket, per vehicle, per day.
Each of the nine long-stay car parks, offering a total 643 spaces, are monitored by CCTV. Payment can be made by coins, card (chip & pin/contactless) and pay by mobile phone.
Short-stay car parks and on-street parking charges will not change on this occasion but will be kept under review.
You can find out more about car parking in Darlington on the Darlington Borough Council website.
Source: Darlington Borough Council