TRADERS in Oswestry have welcomed the news that Shropshire Council will provide free parking when non-essential shops, among others, reopen next month.

The move to make Shropshire Council car parks free between 8am to 6pm from April 12-25 was announced by Councillor Steve Davenport, Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, on Tuesday.

Oswestry councillor Paul Milner says he has spoken to many traders in the town, and said they were boosted by the decision.

"After speaking with a number of traders during the last time Shropshire Councils car parks were free to use, car parking in Oswestry's Shropshire Council car parks between April 12-25 will be welcomed again," he said.

"Hopefully it will increase footfall and therefore their businesses.

"Many traders have found it hard especially the independent businesses and market traders during the lockdowns and I fully support local businesses in Oswestry."

It is hoped that the free parking will encourage people to visit local businesses once the current lockdown measures are eased in line with the government’s roadmap.

However, if the reopening date moves from April 12, this offer will be amended.

Parking is already free in all surface car parks after 6pm and current season ticket and residents’ permits for Shropshire Council car parks will be extended by two weeks.

Cllr Davenport said: “We know that this year has been a challenging one for our town centres, for our businesses, and for the economy.

"We hope this offer will give our traders a much-needed boost once the current lockdown restrictions are eased by encouraging shoppers and visitors to our towns.

“It’s never been more important to think local and shop local – 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.”

Adele Nightingale, Oswestry BID manager, said: “As we start to come out of Covid restrictions any scheme that will help to encourage footfall back into our towns will be seen as positive step by all of our businesses.

"Oswestry BID supports this initiative and would ask everyone to shop locally and support our towns.”

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Shropshire Chamber of Commerce welcomes this initiative to support our town centre businesses in this time of extreme difficulty."

The free parking offer does not include Prees Heath HGV Coach and Car Park; Crossways HGV, Coach and Car Park in Church Stretton; and the car parks at The Bog, at The Moors and Castlefields near The Mere in Ellesmere, and the Severn Valley Country Park car parks at Alveley and Highley.