PLANS have been put forward to introduce free parking in shopping areas to help boost trade.
The Lib Dems believe charges should be dropped between 3pm and 5pm each day in council car parks near shops in Portsmouth to attract more customers.
The proposal forms part of the group’s suggestions for how the council should spend money next year. Lib Dems believe the scheme could be funded through trimming back on management posts at the council.
While the idea has been welcomed by businesses, Tory officials have warned there isn’t the money to consider such a scheme, as much as they would like to.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘We have been told by people who run shops that the period after 3pm is often the quietest time for them and we want to encourage more people to use local shops across the city.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said he wanted to build on Small Business Saturday, which was last weekend, to encourage people to use local shops.
‘We also need to be supporting shops in the city following the collapse of the Northern Quarter shopping centre scheme,’ he said.
Jamie Brennan, of Cosham Independent Barbers, said: ‘It would definitely be a boost to us and the high street.
‘Most of the people who come into our shop say about the parking always being a pain as they don’t always have change on them. People try to park in the free spots.’
Cllr Luke Stubbs, Tory deputy leader of the council, branded the idea an ‘election wheeze’ given it has been suggested at short notice.
The full council was to meet today to discuss next year’s budget, which is aiming to reduce spending by £13.1m.
Cllr Stubbs said: ‘We are always happy to look at proposals. We put our budget out for consultation and made changes to the proposals as a result.
‘This goes against the spirit of this to try and spring something on us last minute and smacks of a political wheeze.
‘Let’s not forget the Lib Dems ran the city for 10 years and clearly couldn’t find the money for this then.’
The car parks that would be part of the scheme are; Wootton Street and London Road in Cosham, Ashby Place and Clarence Road in Southsea and Stubbington Avenue in North End.