Free Saturday parking for Christmas shopping in Forest of Dean
CHRISTMAS has arrived early for shoppers in the Forest.
Forest of Dean District Council has announced it will be free to park in its car parks every Saturday in the run up to Christmas from November 24.
The council is also working with the town councils so parking is also free for visitors to the Christmas light switch-ons.
Cabinet made the decision at their meeting on Thursday.
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Councillor Brian Robinson, cabinet member for efficient council and planning policy, said: “We are really pleased to be able to support the towns and help shoppers by having free parking every Saturday up until Christmas and for the switching on of the Christmas lights.
“We hope plenty of residents and visitors make the most of the free parking and support the local shops and businesses.”
Lyn Callow, chairman of the Lydney Traders Association and owner of lingerie shop All About Eve, has welcomed the news. “It can only be positive for the Forest of Dean,” she said.
“The parking charges brought in have really affected trade all over the area.
“I have had customers shooting off because they have only had five minutes left on their parking, footfall is low, shops are closing.
“So it is good news, it’s just a shame it is only temporary.”
Parking charges were introduced at council-owned car parks back in July and since then controversy has reigned.
Marian Voyce, of Voyce and Son Butchers in Newland Street, Coleford, doesn’t believe the gesture goes far enough.
“It will help on a Saturday, but it isn’t enough,” she said.
“The decline in trade for us, and everyone else, has been so noticeable, it’s really bad.
“I had an 86 year-old woman in last week who had a ticket. She paid her 50p but they said her wheel was just over the line.
“Then the week before I had a man from Wales who comes in, and when he left he told me he wouldn’t be coming back. He got a ticket because the machines weren’t working.
“It really is putting people off visiting the Forest of Dean.
“I know a lot of businesses are really struggling.”