FREE parking in Caerphilly county borough’s town centre pay and display car parks should be extended into the first six months of next year, according to a motion set to be considered by councillors.

In June the Labour-led council waived parking charges until the end of this year to encourage people to “shop local”.

Plaid Cymru and Independent councillors are now calling for the move to be extended into next year.

Cllr Colin Mann, leader of the council’s Plaid Cymru group, said: “The council needs to extend free parking for the first half of 2021 to encourage people to come back into our town centres and help traders as they try to recover from this crisis.


“Only last month the council urged residents to shop local and the deputy Labour leader accepted that businesses were starting to feel the pinch from the local lockdown and said that the local economy needed a boost.

“Well, the first few months of any year are normally the most difficult for local traders.

“I am contacting the Independent councillors and the ruling Labour group to ask them to support our motion.

“Local could literally be the difference between our local businesses having a bright future or no future at all.”

Independent councillor Kevin Etheridge said his group “totally support” free parking in town centres.

“I have recently written to the council asking that charges be deferred from January to March 2021,” he said.

But questions over the timing of the motion have been raised by the council’s Labour group.

Cllr John Ridgewell, cabinet member for environment and infrastructure, said car parking charges across the county borough are currently being considered by a task and finish group.

He said the authority had waived parking charges “when many other local councils chose not to”.

“There is a cost associated with offering free parking, so everything will need to be considered in the round,” Cllr Ridgewell said.

“However, I feel it’s important that the cross party task and finish group should be allowed to reach their conclusions without being unduly influenced by a notice of motion.”

Cllr Sean Morgan, deputy leader, added: “It’s wrong to try to present this notice of motion at this time as the cross party task and finish group, which Cllr Mann’s Plaid Cymru ward colleague chairs, is yet to complete its review.”

A Caerphilly council spokeswoman said:  "We appreciate that we are still very much in the response phase of the pandemic and we are doing all that we can as an authority to support our community, in particular the business community, to survive and recover from the effects of Covid-19 .

"We are working closely with our retailers as part of a Christmas campaign to encourage residents to shop local.

"We committed to providing free parking in the town centres for the remainder of 2020 with the view that this will be reviewed by the cross party task and finish group in December.”