Free parking needed to help save High Streets, MP claims

Councils should consider providing free parking in town centres to help high streets and support local businesses, a minister has said.

Minister Jake Berry has argued for free parking to help High Streets attract customers

Jake Berry, Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen, was speaking as authorities in England are being invited to bid for a share of a £675 million fund to regenerate their ailing high streets.

The future high street fund, originally announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in the Budget in October, is intended to help local authorities modernise and revitalise their town centres.

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Speaking to the Daily Mail about the state of the high street, the communities minister said: "If local authorities want to bring people back, give shoppers free parking on the high street so retailers can compete with shopping centres.

"It has been tried in a number of places. Where I have seen it succeed, the free parking lasts for two hours or so, and it means new people keep coming back with fresh money in their pockets."

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The future high street fund followed the recommendations of an expert panel led by the retailer Sir John Timpson which called for a community-driven approach to transforming high streets into vibrant "community hubs".

Mr Berry said: "We all know high streets are changing, we can't hide from this reality. But we're determined to ensure they continue to sit at the heart of our communities for generations to come.

"To do this we have to support investment in infrastructure, boosting local economies and ensuring people are able to get the most out of their local high streets."