NEWPORT city councillor is backing a potential “third way” in the argument over two hours’ free parking.

  Our campaign to Keep City Parking Free is now into its fourth week, urging the council to reverse its decision to axe free parking for two hours in its city centre car parks from February.

  The two-year-old scheme, which the council accepts has brought people to the city centre, was said to be “unsustainable” given the future budget constraints the authority faces.

  Labour councillor for Rogerstone Chris Evans, who abstained from voting when full council heard a motion in support of our campaign, is now backing what he feels is a potential compromise initiative first proposed by Argus editor Kevin Ward.

  Cllr Evans is backing a voucher scheme, which would reward people who used city centre businesses after parking in council car parks.

  He said that shoppers’ parking tickets would act as a type of discount voucher in any business wishing to take part in the scheme.

  Cllr Evans said: “Businesses would be able to come up with a range of rewards for people parking in council car parks to try to make the parking cost neutral for shoppers.

  “For example, if you showed your ticket in a coffee shop involved in the scheme you might get a free cup of coffee. The benefit to businesses would be that often people won’t just have a coffee, they will have a bun as well, say, or there will be more than one person in the car.

  “Most tills now are fitted with a discount button so it wouldn’t hopefully cost much to implement.

“The council could lead on this too by perhaps running the scheme in the Riverfront and the Newport Centre.

  “The idea is not perfect but we need to start talking about a plan b, or a third way, because I don’t subscribe at all to the view that the city centre is finished and that we should give up on it.”

  Argus editor Kevin Ward said: “I’m delighted a member of the ruling Labour group can see the benefits of a voucher or discount scheme that would effectively give back to shoppers that £1 fee.

  “I know the chamber of trade sees merit in the idea as it would give shoppers an added incentive to use city centre shops.

  “It’s just a shame the council’s political leaders seem unwilling or unable to engage with us.”

  More than 4,000 people have signed our petition against the scrapping of free parking.

  Martin Wade Digital Editor South Wales Argus