Free parking returns to support county's businesses
An annual scheme to support businesses during the Christmas period has returned this month.
We have brought back its 'Free after 3' parking offer which will see free parking available in all council-owned car parks and on-street Pay and Display after 3.00pm, every day in December.
As well as 'Free after 3', on Saturday 5 December free parking will be available in all our off-street car parks and on-street spaces across the county after 10.00am to coincide with Small Business Saturday, a national campaign that encourages people to shop local and support small businesses in their communities.
These parking offers are the latest move to support small shops and businesses following the millions already paid out through business support grants.
Small businesses in need of financial assistance can apply for the business support grants which are available through the government support packages. More details about Covid-19 support for businesses can be found online.
Follow the latest guidance
Visitors are reminded to follow the latest restrictions and government guidance for the area. They are also reminded to continue to social distance, wear face coverings indoors in public spaces, and follow the current guidance to keep themselves and others safe while shopping.
We are also asking drivers to plan ahead for their journey and consider using car parks on the periphery of an area they intend to visit to allow for social distancing and support healthier travel by walking further where possible into retail centres.
Find more details about parking in County Durham.
Support local businesses
Many retailers are offering online services such as click and collect or delivery. A directory of local businesses can be found through Visit County Durham's website.
Cllr Carl Marshall, our Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "The 'Free after 3' scheme supports local shops and businesses who rely on the increased footfall for a prosperous festive period, and it is particularly important this year following the impact most businesses have faced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
"It is important that we are able to maintain a steady turnover of available parking spaces in all of our towns and the city to ensure they run effectively, and this is achieved by charging for parking during the day.
"However, by offering free parking after 3.00pm, people can do their shopping during quieter hours ensuring local businesses do not miss out on the benefits of increased footfall through to the end of the year. Our free parking offer from 10.00am on 5 December also encourages people to shop local and support our small businesses at this time."
Drivers are advised that payment machines will not be switched off at times when charges are not in place and that money paid will not be refunded.
Those who are planning a Christmas shopping trip when shops reopen are reminded to keep space between themselves and others, wash their hands, wear a face covering and follow safety advice inside and outside shops. Help keep everyone safe #HandsFaceSpace.