Published: 06:00, 23 July 2021
Shoppers could be given free parking in their town centres on Saturdays to help revive the local economy.
A motion has been put forward by Conservative councillor Oliver Eakin, who represents Sheerness on Swale council, calling for free parking in council-owned cars parks in Sheerness, Sittingbourne and Faversham.
It has been seconded by Cllr Mike Whiting (Con), who represents Teynham and Lynsted, near Sittingbourne, and is set to be discussed at the authority's Full Council meeting next Wednesday.
When asked why he wanted to push for such an offer, Cllr Eakin said: "It's basically so that those on the High Street have the same opportunities as retail parks, like Neats Court at Queenborough, for example, or big-name supermarkets, which actually can offer free parking."
Cllr Eakin said the offer, a similar one of which was underway in Southampton at the moment, would be aimed at weekend shoppers, with free parking available during the day.
"With the High Streets reopening again, now that coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, it's a good offer and the right time to help traders," he said. "It is really important for people to shop locally, now more than ever.
"If you don't use the High Street shops, you're going to lose them, so whatever we can do to help is a good thing."
He added: "I have been speaking to traders and residents, and parking is one of the main issues, with shoppers choosing to go to Neats Court and the likes, over the High Street, where parking is free.
"That's why this offer is important for each of the towns in the borough.
"They all have their own High Streets to look after and it's an equal problem in each town, with people going to bigger shopping sites that can offer something that the independent High Street shops can't."
If the motion is passed at the meeting, the relevant Cabinet member will be instructed to make a report, to determine whether such a scheme would be feasible, before presenting it to a future council meeting for a decision.