A business lobby group is urging local councils to help small business, including dental practices, by scrapping car parking charges for 2013.
The Forum of Private Business is calling on local authorities across the country to do their bit for retailers by scrapping town centre car parking charges.
With councils starting to put together their budget plans for the 2013/14 year – which are traditionally announced in the last week of February – the Forum is urging authorities to spare a thought for struggling small businesses and make car parking free for shoppers.
This, it says, would increase footfall in town centres, make them more attractive places for firms to do business, and reduce the number of vacant commercial premises.
The not-for-profit small business support group described any such move as ‘one of the most business-friendly concessions’ a council could make for small retailers in what is promising to be another challenging trading year for the sector.
The Forum’s Head of Policy, Alex Jackman, said: 'There are so many good reasons why all councils should be considering something along these lines, but first and foremost would be to help retailers through another tough trading year.
'High streets across the country are under threat and have been for many years now from the likes of out-of-town shopping centres where parking is universally free.
'It doesn’t take a genius to work out that councils charging people ever more for the privilege of coming in to their town centres to spend their hard earned cash is not the best plan to grow footfall. Set it against a backdrop of spiralling motoring costs and it’s a recipe for disaster.
'The government has done its bit by extending Small Business Rate Relief in the Autumn Statement, now it’s the turn of councils to do likewise with free car parking, or any kind of concession for motorists that entices shoppers in to their local town centre.'