Shoppers will be able to park for free in Bedford on Saturdays in a major bid to boost town centre retail.
Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson today announced that all council-run car parks will offer two hours of free parking on Saturdays.
The move will open up thousands of car parking spaces in the centre of town and is a move to entice people back into town to shop.
Under the mayor’s Free Parking Deal, everyone using any of the council surface and multi-storey car parks in the town centre will get their first two hours’ parking free on Saturdays, for the first time.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “We want to send the message out to everyone locally and further afield that Bedford is open for business.
“We have delivered real-terms cuts in shoppers’ parking charges year after year and now we want to go even further in support of residents and local businesses.
“There are severe ongoing challenges for all town centres, but Bedford is bucking the wider trend with vacancy rates falling and footfall rising and we have an opportunity to deliver a real boost on top of the progress we have already seen.
“That’s why we hope that free Saturday parking will help make the difference when people are deciding whether to come and enjoy Bedford town centre’s mix of excellent independent shops, national chains and opportunities for eating, drinking and leisure.
“We have seen from the way that so many people of all ages have supported the range of events and activities in our town centre how much people care about their town.
“I hope this measure in support of shoppers helps us to maintain momentum in our ongoing efforts to make Bedford town centre a vibrant, enjoyable place to be.”
Under Councillor Hodgson’s plans the free parking offer will be introduced before Christmas, and will coincide with the introduction of brand new payment machines in the multi-storey car parks.
All council-run town centre car parks will be free every Saturday for the first two hours, after which normal charges will apply.
Full details of further parking initiatives to support shoppers and town centre businesses, including additional late openings to boost the night-time economy, will be announced later this week.