Motorists are to get 15 minutes free parking in an attempt to boost trade in Shropshire’s high streets.
Shropshire Council is introducing the measure at its car parks and on-street parking bays from Monday.
Council leader Keith Barrow said the aim of the move was to encourage drivers to visit their town centre without parking charges.
The move was welcomed by business leaders – who hope the grace period may be extended.
Richard Sheehan, managing director of the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a very positive action. There is no doubt people do avoid that little trip into town when confronted with a parking charge.
“It will boost the volume of people on the high street. It is a good initiative. We would like it to be half-an-hour rather than 15 minutes, but it is a start and it is better than nothing.
“Hopefully, it will persuade the council to extend it to 30 minutes.”
The plan was also welcomed by John Hall, from Shrewsbury’s Shop in the Loop group.
He said: “It is a very significant step in the right direction. Anything is welcome. It would be churlish not to welcome it.”
Councillor Barrow said: “High streets up and down the country are under pressure and parking charges have been a bone of contention for some time now. As a council we are determined to do everything we can to encourage people to visit town centres and use their local shops.
“By giving a grace period of 15 minutes, I hope we will make it easier for those people who just want to pop into town for a short time to run an errand or visit a particular shop.”
The 15-minute grace period will apply to designated pay and display car parking bays at all council-owned surface car parks across the county, apart from those which already have a free period of parking and on-street pay and display parking bays.
It will not operate in the Raven Meadows multi-storey car park in Shrewsbury, as drivers have to pay when leaving. It also does not include restricted parking areas, like loading bays and double-yellow lines. Parking is not allowed in disabled bays without a blue badge.
Motorists in Oswestry have been warned they will be penalised for parking in the three main car parks in the town without getting a pay and display ticket. The car parks are owned and managed by Oswestry Town Council, not the unitary authority.
David Preston, clerk to the council, said the council would debate the car parking charges, but currently there was no 15-minute free parking in the Central Car Park, the Smithfield Road car park or the Horsemarket car park. Shropshire Council is responsible for the Oak Street, Festival Square and Oswald Road car parks.