TO try and get people back shopping in the high streets of Powys, calls have been made to allow people to use car parks for free.

Powys County Council (PCC) received a £600,000 Welsh Government grant to help widen pavements in at least 13 towns across the county.

This was to allow people to shop safely as non-essential shops re-opened on Monday.

But the temporary barriers and cones will see much of the on-street free parking in some lost.

This could see shoppers ignore the high street and shop at their nearest supermarket where parking is free.

Liberal Democrat and Green group leader, Councillor James Gibson-Watt (Glasbury) said: “Our market towns were struggling badly before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and now they need all the help they can get to put them back on their feet.

“Traffic and on-street parking restrictions are going to be needed to ensure people can walk around our town centres observing social distancing to stay safe.

“Which means people will have to use the car parks to visit and shop, even if they are only staying for very short periods.

“It would be a big boost to the retail and commercial businesses in town centres for there to be free parking during this period of revival and I hope the cabinet can support our request.”

Environment portfolio holder Councillor Heulwen Hulme (Independent – Rhiwcynon), said: “A flexible approach is vital, with the need to take account of the varying situations and demands in each of our towns as the lockdown restrictions are relaxed.”

“A certain amount of on-street parking will inevitably be lost in order to safely accommodate shoppers, and importantly to allow businesses to operate within the current government guidelines.

“We are currently assessing the impact of any parking changes and any concessions which may be beneficial to supporting the economy.”

She also encouraged less use of cars for local journeys and believed more use of walking and cycling should take place.