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Cheshire West and Chester Council is to trial free parking in Ellesmere Port’s Westminster car park.

20 March 2014 – Working in partnership with the Town Centre Improvement Advisory Body, the Council will implement free parking for up to four hours in a bid to welcome more visitors, increase footfall and support the shops along Whitby Road and the rest of the town centre.

Running from April 1, 2014 until April 1, 2015, the one-year pilot scheme will be funded by the Town Centre Improvement Advisory Body.

Executive Member for Localities, Councillor Lynn Riley, said: “This is a great example of the council working in partnership with the local community to highlight their needs and find real solutions.

“The Town Centre Improvement Advisory Body is made up of local people and organisations who are all working towards one aim, making Ellesmere Port a better place to live, work and visit by improving the town centre for all.

“I hope that offering free parking will ensure that more people visit the shops and market within the town centre, something which will no doubt be a real boost for traders.”

Previously costing 50 pence to park for up to two hours and £1 all day, the cost of staying longer than four hours will remain priced at £1.

Motorists should continue to display a ticket, available from the Pay and Display machines on site, in their vehicles which will indicate arrival times and prevent overstaying.

Chairman of the Town Centre Improvement Advisory Body, Les Lyon, said: “I am pleased that Cheshire West and Chester Council have agreed to accept the offer of funding from the Town Centre Improvements program for this trial period of free parking.

“The Advisory Body is very aware of the benefits that such a scheme can bring and we hope that it will allow the Council to measure the effectiveness of free parking with a view to the future.

“We also hope it will send a clear message of welcome to shoppers in the town which is vital in today’s climate of pressure on the High Street retail offer.”

Part of a programme of town centre improvements designed to support the transformation of the heart of Ellesmere Port, the scheme is prioritised in the Vision and Regeneration Strategic Framework of the Ellesmere Port Development Board.

Local member, Councillor Justin Madders, said: “”I am pleased the Council has taken on board my proposal to utilise some of the Marks and Spencer’s money to draw people into the bottom end of the town.

“It is hoped that the lure of free parking at the Westminster end of town will encourage more people to walk through and use the shops in Whitby Road.

“There are some exciting developments in Whitby Road with empty shops coming back into life and the mural being painted on the junction with Princes Road. All these initiatives can help support our high street during what continues to be a difficult time for retailers.”