PARKING charges will be suspended temporarily in Herefordshire Council’s town and city car parks from today (Saturday) for a month.

Herefordshire Council is offering free parking on street and in council car parks (with the exception of the Friar Street Military Club car park) from June 27 until July 24.

The council had previously said charges would be reintroduced in Hereford as non-essential retail stores were given the green light to reopen, with charges coming into force on June 15 after they were suspended in March.

Cllr John Harrington, Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport said: “After listening to the concerns expressed by parish and town councils, by ward members and particularly those from businesses and Hereford BID, I’ve taken the decision to reintroduce free parking for four weeks, to help give retailers and the hospitality trade a much needed boost at this critical time.

“We hope to be able to follow this with a scheme later in the year with incentives to encourage people to stay for longer for less money, encouraging them to spend more time supporting our retail and hospitality outlets, particularly our independent businesses.

“Like every other council across the country we have parking charges for several good reasons. Charges help us to encourage people to travel in a different way, by walking or cycling for example. For those that want to or must drive, varying those charges allows us to encourage shoppers and other visitors to park outside the urban centres by charging them less for staying longer, whilst those that want to park right in the centres are expected to pay more. Charges keep spaces turning over especially in the city and town centres.

“Ideally we would love people to really think about travelling a different way in town, especially when you consider for example that over 50 percent of Hereford residents travel less than two miles to shop or commute to work. We have all been encouraged by the boost in walking and cycling lockdown brought and we intend to support those ambitions in any way we can whilst recognising some folks must travel in by car.     

“Herefordshire Council has made a commitment to support local business, encourage people to visit our historic city and market towns, and buy locally. After years of austerity and with challenging financial times ahead we cannot afford to provide free parking forever as we use this income to subsidise public transport and school buses. So, in the longer term we will be looking at other ways to encourage people to safely visit our wonderful city and historic market towns.

"There is an opportunity to look to do things in a different way while supporting local business.”

Resident parking and other restrictions will be enforced.