FREE car parking for Dewsbury town centre after 3pm every day of the week could soon be on the way.
Members of campaign group Dewsbury Forward have put a proposal to Kirklees officials and are confident it will be approved.
Group chairman and former councillor Eric Firth said three hours’ free parking would stimulate the town centre’s tea-time economy.
It would also boost the night-time economy and attract investors interested in opening restaurants and cafes.
“Mothers could come shopping after school and anyone shopping in the town wouldn’t feel the need to leave early,” he said.
“Shops and businesses are crying out for help and the council has to listen to them. They have to offer them something.
“Three hours’ free parking would be a start. It would be one way of encouraging people to stay in the town longer.
“It’s no good the council talking about regenerating the town centre unless they are prepared to lose some car parking revenue.
“I said all this when I was on the council before I lost my seat, and I will continue saying it until something radical is done.
“We urgently need to stimulate our town centre economy, and I know this will help. We have to make it happen.”
Dewsbury Forward was set up three years ago by a group of local business people to help promote the town and improve its image.
They work in partnership with Dewsbury Chamber of Trade and Kirklees Council on regeneration plans for Dewsbury town centre.
“We know we may never get all-day free parking but we believe the council should at least meet us halfway,” said Mr Firth.
“Kirklees officers are currently carrying out a review of car parking in the town centre and are looking at our proposal favourably.
“Shops are closing in town centres all over the country and councils are having to look at radical ways of dealing with it.
“The footfall in Huddersfield has also dropped dramatically. The only towns which have not been as hard hit as us are those which have free car parking.
“Dewsbury town centre is dead after 3pm, so the council are already losing revenue. Some shops have even started closing earlier. We need to encourage people coming into the town to stay longer instead of rushing off to escape parking fines.”
Kirklees starts consultations on car parking with the public in August, and Dewsbury Forward and the Chamber of Trade will be feeding into this.
Mr Firth said other groups will be asked for their views and he felt confident local businesses would back the initiative.