Damien Moore is calling for temporary free parking to be brought back in Southport to help hundreds of local businesses recover from the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Southport MP wants Sefton Council to bring in concessions to help traders build themselves back up after spending the past three months in lockdown.

Shops across Southport were able to reopen on Monday (15th June) as the Government eased some restrictions due to Coronavirus cases continuing to fall.

Despite the shops’ return many shoppers are either shielding, or cautious about returning to the high street. Footfall data by Springboard, the market research firm, suggests that numbers of shoppers on Monday were 34% down on the same day a year ago.

The social distancing measures in place also mean that less people are able to access stores at any one time.

If cases of Covid-19 continue to fall then businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry such as restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, guest houses, hotels, leisure attractions, beauty salons, hairdressers and barbers could be allowed to open in July.

Damien Moore believes that Sefton Council must provide free parking for a short period in order to bring customers back into Southport.

He said: “This is a critical time for our businesses, which have never had to face anything like this pandemic before.

“We need to kickstart our economy and breathe life back into our high street and support our local shops, restaurants and other enterprises in the coming months.

“I am sure they would welcome the support of Sefton Council in suspending parking charges or providing a short stay incentive, to help them build their businesses back up.

“The Government has played its part in providing an unprecedented package of economic support such as the furlough scheme, business grants, business loans, and a business rates holiday, as well as providing billions of pounds in emergency funding to councils across the UK, including Sefton.

“Now is the time for Sefton Council to play its part in Southport’s recovery by suspending parking charges temporarily, providing a short period of free parking for up to two hours to help our local businesses with their recovery.”

Sefton Council suspended car parking charges in March at all of its car parks and on-street parking spaces in the borough. Some car parks were made available for use by key workers.

Some local residents were concerned that having to touch pay and display meters during the Coronavirus outbreak may play a part in spreading the disease and welcomed the suspension of charges.

But Sefton Council surprised local people when it brought back parking charges on Monday, May 18.

Damien Moore said: “It makes no sense to reimpose parking charges during the Coronavirus pandemic and take advantage of local shoppers, to the detriment of our local businesses.

“I would like to see the immediate suspension of parking charges in Southport to help our local businesses to survive. Making substantial parking concessions would be appreciated by local residents.

“In the longer term, Sefton Council needs to instigate a long-term Parking Review, with the intention of asking what the system is for and how it can be changed to benefit our town as we look to recover from the impact of Coronavirus.

“We need a system that doesn’t penalise visitors and local businesses, which is more transparent, and fairer than it is now.

“It is not right that residents in Southport pay more than residents in Bootle for their parking.

“Parking in Southport town centre for up to four hours costs £5, while it costs £3.60 to park for up to four hours in the Bootle Town Hall area and £3.20 for up to four hours in the Bootle Multi Storey Car Park.

“We need to talk about a fairer system of parking but in the immediate term, parking charges must be suspended temporarily to help our local businesses to bounce back.”