Businesses in Lancaster are set for a boost with plans in place for free weekend parking while major roadworks are carried out.
With essential sewer works currently being undertaken by United Utilities causing massive upheaval and delays through the one-way system, traders say they have felt the knock-on effect on their income.
But a joint proposal from bodies including Lancaster City Council, Lancaster District Chamber of Trade and Lancaster BID to help fund the cost of city centre parking charges has now been put forward in a bid to support traders.
Under the plans, Lancaster BID – the city’s Business Improvement District partnership – and United Utilities would cover the parking fees at weekends until the end of November.
All city council car parks would be included in the scheme, along with Marketgate.
Chamber of Commerce manager Vicky Lofthouse said they wanted to get across the message that Lancaster is “open for business”.
She said: “We have had concerns and suggestions from businesses suffering because of the congestion.
“We want to encourage shoppers to come into Lancaster, and portray a positive message that Lancaster is still very much alive and open for business.
“The key parties are working hard to alleviate the issues that people are facing.”
United Utilities say that while they are happy to get involved with any initiative that will help support the shops and services of Lancaster, a meeting with their stakeholders needs to take place before they can formally agree to any proposals.
It is hoped the free parking will begin next weekend, October 11-12.
Dawn Harrington from United Utilities said: “We know overhauling the sewer network in such a historic and busy city centre as Lancaster was always going to have an impact on people trying to get on with their daily routine.
“It’s something we’ve not taken lightly. In fact, we’ve spent more than £140,000 informing people about this work – prior to us starting the project in April 2013 and during each phase change.
“And just as important we’ve always made sure everyone is aware all their favourite local businesses are open as usual, while we’re sorting the sewers.
“Just a few of these activities have included public drop-in exhibitions, radio and newspaper adverts, as well as sponsoring Lancaster’s flagship cycle race, which over the past couple of years has created a fantastic buzz in the city.
“We want to continue our partnership approach with all key stakeholders within the city to see how we can support Lancaster through the remaining few weeks of our sewer upgrade work.
“We believe by working together collectively we can come up with ideas that can best meet everyone’s needs.”
The free parking proposal is also backed by The Bay, whose managing director Bill Johnson is on the BID management committee.