A MOTION backing our campaign to ‘Keep City Parking Free’ will go before Newport City Council this evening.

The leader of the opposition, Matthew Evans, will put forward the motion at a meeting of the full council at the Civic Centre.

The motion will state: ‘This Council urges the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure to reconsider his decision to end the two hours free parking and 10p parking from February 2013 and leave the current pricing structure in place.”

We launched our campaign more than two weeks ago, urging Newport City Council to reverse its decision to axe two hours free parking in its city centre car parks. There are now more than 4,000 names on our petition.

The car parks included council-owned pay and display at Emlyn Street, Faulkner Road and Hill Street, and its two multistorey car parks at Cambrian Road and Park Square, though the former is set to close on December 31.

The scheme was introduced in 2010 to try and give support to struggling traders in the city centre. The council’s own figures have shown it was a huge success.

In the four-month snapshot of figures the council produced for a report in 2011, it showed that more than 17,000 extra cars had parked in the city centre in January, February, April and May, compared to the same four months in 2010. That figure increased again this year, with 13,181 more cars parking in council car parks from May until October this year, compared with the same six months in 2011.

Michael Hine, manager of the Kingsway shopping centre, also said the two hours' free initiative, which he will maintain in their multi-storey, has seen additional cars park there.

Mr Hine, said: “We have noted the data published for the council’s parking May-October 2011/12, which reflects an increase of over three per cent.

“We would add that, during this same period, the Kingsway car park recorded an almost double increase in usage of six per cent, confirming the popularity of the two-hour free scheme.”

This evening councillors are set to have their chance to save the scheme. The issue has caused friction among the Labour group, with a host of emergency cabinet and group meetings called in the last fortnight.

Such is the prickly nature of the issue, the Conservative group is concerned that Labour will try to stop members speaking on the issue and will call for a recorded vote, meaning individual members will have to stand up and say whether they back the motion or not.

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