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Councils differing approach to reintroducing parking charges

This week will see the return of car park charges set by local councils, but different authorities will be approaching it in different ways.

The latest Government guidelines encourage those who can safely return to work to do so, with non-essential retail set to reopen on June 15.

From late March and throughout lockdown, councils across the UK suspended car park charges to support key workers in their fight against the coronavirus crisis.

A number of councils have announced that car park charges and on street car parking fees will be reintroduced this week, as well as bus lane reinforcement.

Councils opting to reintroduce these measures have widely stipulated that NHS and critical care staff, and in some cases NHS Covid-19 volunteers, are still able to park for free providing their permits are clearly displayed.

Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “When we introduced these measures, we were very clear that they were only a temporary measure.

“NHS staff are doing a brilliant job, under very difficult circumstances, and we are happy to show them our support.

“This will allow them to go about their vital duties without having to worry about paying to park and possibly using public transport.”

However, some councils have chosen to continue providing free town centre car parks in June, with charges expected to return from July 1.

Lead Councillor for Parking at Guildford Borough Council, Cllr James Steel said:

“We have been extremely proud to do everything we can to help our residents and businesses get through the coronavirus pandemic, and as we begin to take the first steps back towards normality, we want to maintain that level of commitment. It is essential that we support our key workers in doing their vital work, and I am delighted that we can continue to provide free parking for them.

"Economic recovery is one of the key factors in how the UK emerges from this pandemic and with Guildford being one of the top shopping destinations in the South-East, I look forward to the town being at the forefront of that recovery."

Other councils, such as Plymouth City Council will be reintroducing the charges, but its machines will no longer accept coins or notes, with plans to make all council parking machines, including on-street, to be cash free by the end of summer.

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