parking ticket machine (By Simon Clayson)

Nantwich town councillors may lobby for free parking in the town centre after 3pm to help boost local businesses.

The proposal comes after many traders in areas such as Beam Street predicted a gloomy future for the town’s economy.

One councillor said smaller retailers and businesses are blaming competition from major outlets like M&S, as well as high business rates and rents.

Cllr Stuart Hutton told last night’s council meeting in Brookfield Hall: “Proprietors in Beam Street gave me a very negative outlook on their future prospects.

“We don’t want to see the streets full of closed and empty, unattractive shops. We need to do something to assist, such as free parking for this area of the town.”

Other councillors agreed that a free parking scheme after a certain time had worked in other towns.

Cllr Graham Fenton added: “Each business competes with each other in the real world, and with the arrival of M&S other shops have to up their ante to compete.

“But free parking after 3pm would be a good idea.”

Cllr Jon Hopkins said: “A free parking scheme after 3pm has been very successful in other areas, and I would encourage us to explore this possibility.”

The town council agreed to open discussions with Cheshire East Council on the idea.

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