Caerphilly County Borough Council is facing calls to extend free car parking for a further six months.
In June, the council made all council-owned car parks in the borough free to use until the end of the year, in an attempt to support businesses that had been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Plaid Cymru group leader, Councillor Colin Mann, has put forward a motion calling for the extension and said the pandemic has left businesses in the borough “struggling for survival”.
Cllr Mann, who represents the Llanbradach ward, 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.
“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.”
Cllr Mann said it “could literally be the difference between our local businesses having a bright future or no future at all”.
Blackwood’s independent councillor Kevin Etheridge has said the independent group will support the motion.
A cross-party council task group has been meeting to discuss the future of car parking charges in the borough, chaired by Llanbradach ward councillor Rob Gough.
Cllr Gough said the Car Parks Task and Finish Group, which was set up in 2017 to look at car parking in the borough, has been working on a review, which will be finalised this month and debated by a joint-scrutiny committee, made up of councillors.
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The joint-scrutiny committee will then decide whether to recommend the review and put it to the council cabinet, who have the power to enact recommendations made in the review.
Cllr John Ridgewell, cabinet member for environment and infrastructure, said: “This council made the decision to waive car parking charges at the start of the pandemic, 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. 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.”
A council spokesperson 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 are 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.”
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