OSWESTRY BID has welcomed the news that parking will be free in Shropshire Council car parks throughout December and Janurary,

Parking will be free from 11am to 6pm in all Shropshire Council car parks from December 3 to January 17, to provide the county's town centre traders with a welcome boost once the current lockdown ends.

It's hoped that the free parking will encourage people to visit local businesses in the run up to Christmas and in the post-Christmas period.

And with social distancing measures in the county's town centres set to be in place visitors will also be able to visit towns safely, as well as for free.

Charges will apply between 8am and 11am each day, and people paying to park during these hours are encouraged to pay by app, text or phone using MiPermit, to avoid having to queue at, or touch, a pay and display machine.

On-street parking charges will remain so that the parking bays can be used for those needing to use the 15 minutes' 'pop and shop' free parking, and to provide short-stay and easy access to essential services in the town centres – especially for those who find it difficult to walk significant distances.

Adele Nightingale, Oswestry BID manager, said she welcomed the news.

"Oswestry BID welcomes any initiative that will help to encourage footfall back into our town centres," she said. "It has been a tough year and so anything that can assist our businesses and the community at large is appreciated and seen as a positive step."

Meanwhile Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council's Cabinet member for highways and transport, added: "We know that this year has been a challenging one for our town centres, for our local businesses, and for the local economy.

"We hope this offer will give all of our traders a much-needed boost once the current lockdown ends by encouraging people to visit our town centres in the run-up to Christmas, and into January.

"We want everyone to think local and shop local this Christmas and beyond – our local businesses will very much welcome your custom – and we hope this offer will help encourage people to do so.

"Clearly health and safety will remain a top priority.

"Our town centres will have social distancing measures in place to support safer shopping, and we remind people using our car parks and visiting our town centres to follow latest Government guidance, and take note of any signage."