Free parking extended as town centres prepare to reopen

South Kesteven District Council is to extend free parking in its car parks across the district for a further month to support the initial phase of the reopening of town centres on Monday (15 June).

Free parking in council-run car parks was initially introduced in March to support key workers and others who needed to make essential journeys by car during lockdown.

The decision was due to be reviewed on 30 June but Cabinet will now be asked on Tuesday (16 June) to ratify a decision to extend this period until the end of July agreed by informal Cabinet.

The Government has announced that from Monday, retailers will be able to open for business, as long as they are compliant with all the Covid-19 guidance. Official posters have been produced by Government, which shops should display clearly in their shop windows to show that they have taken all the necessary steps and are Covid-19 secure.

Once businesses have taken the necessary steps to ensure they are Covid-19 secure they should complete and display the Government poster.

The council is working with public sector partners, business and community groups, and volunteers to support this next phase of recovery. A variety of posters and signs about social distancing are already available on the council's website for businesses to download. 

Leader of South Kesteven District Council, Cllr Kelham Cooke, said: "Businesses have faced a particularly challenging time over the last few weeks and this is a positive step towards South Kesteven's economic recovery.

"It is important that we all work together as we enter this next phase of recovery. I would urge people to support the reopening of our town centres, but to do so safely to help guard against the spread of the virus and any localised spikes in the number of cases of Coronavirus.

"We managed to keep our fresh food markets running throughout the lockdown because traders, shoppers and our staff worked together. It was mutual responsibility and respect that carried us through, and that is what will determine the success of the reopening of our high streets and town centres.

"Protecting public health and supporting our local businesses are mutually dependent.  Enabling retailers to reopen and people to go back to work is good for mental health and wellbeing for those who work in retail and residents more generally, as well as being good for the local economy. But we can continue to move forward if this is done safely, which means everyone following Government guidance."

Other measures being put in place by the council to support the reopening of its town centres include:

• The placement of two-metre social distancing signs on lampposts in Grantham, Stamford, Bourne and Deepings

• A small number of temporary social distancing champions to monitor pedestrian traffic and report any pinch-points so that appropriate action can be taken where necessary to safeguard public health and support local businesses

• Two-metre distance indicators in key locations

• Public health safety advice posted at car parks, bus stations and taxi ranks

Pedestrian one-way routes may be introduced in confined spaces if needed to enable social distancing and prevent pinch points with traffic and/or pedestrians.

Cllr Dr Peter Moseley, SKDC Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations said: "We want to encourage residents and shoppers to support our local high streets as restrictions are eased, and we hope that the short extension to free car parking will help to support this initial phase.

"As social distancing remains crucial in reducing the risk of spreading or contracting the virus, there will be restrictions on the number of people allowed to enter certain retail premises so it is likely people will need to continue to be patient so that we can continue to ease out of lockdown safely."

Sarah Sewell, of Shop Stamford, said they were pleased with the support they had received from SKDC and InvestSK and stores were putting up Covid-ready signs and marking out social distancing guidelines

Sarah, who owns Energy Clothing in Ironmonger Street, said: "We have got to continue to work in partnership together over the next few weeks on issues such as parking and queueing outside premises as nobody really knows now things are going to work out."