Plans to introduce additional free parking in Uttoxeter for the Christmas period have been rejected by the borough council because it was felt the current structure in place was good enough.

The move was discussed at the meeting of East Staffordshire Borough Council on Monday night, December 4.

It had been proposed that, on top of the current 'free-after-three' scheme - where the Maltings offers free parking after 3pm each day - more free parking would be introduced in December.

The idea was to give a boost to businesses in the town leading up to Christmas. Four suggestions were made in the report put to councillors.

The first would have seen free parking at weekends and the second would have seen it introduced on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The third option would provide a boost for the Christmas and January sales with free parking from Boxing Day,December 26, to New Year's Day, January 1.

The fourth options was to continue with the current system.

Councillor Greg Hall, who presented the case to the councillors, said: "The perspective that many local people have is that with more free parking, you can encourage more activity in the town centre.

"There are three options in the report that have potential for free parking for Christmas and the New Year period.

"Then the fourth option would be to continue with the current arrangement, with the free after three initiative and also the free parking at the leisure centre car parks.

"Looking at the potential options, one of the things that I ask you to consider is that if we are going to look at options to giveaway free parking, we should only do that if it is going to generate more activity and you will see from the report that none of the first three options do that and give us that certainty that the money we give away in revenue will bring more activity to the town."

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The recommendation for choice four - to stay as it currently is, was unanimously voted for by the councillors.

Councillor Richard Grosvenor, leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council
Councillor Richard Grosvenor, leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council

Council leader Richard Grosvenor said: "It's important we review the evidence based around the request received generally about free car parking over Christmas.

"We can't always legislate for those spaces being taken up by businesses to retailers, and what you might find is those spaces being taken up by people minding to park their all day and not use the business.

"What car parks need and what businesses need is what has been described as 'churn' on car parks.

"They need you to park, do your shopping then go, and I'm not convinced that a free car park at this stage would have the churn needed."

County deputy leader Councillor Julia Jessel, who represents the Needwood ward, said: "I think we need to look at this in the context that over a number of years.

"We have introduced the free after three which was to help to generate more footfall in the town centre and actually our car parking charges generally are very competitive with our neighbouring shopping areas.

"In fact it's £1 for two hours so as an authority we already do a vast amount to actually help to generate the footfall the town needs to remain vibrant.

"I do think it's important that we acknowledge that this authority already does a significant amount to help our traders, our retailers and businesses in the town and we are continuing to do so."