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Free parking initiative in bid to bring shoppers back to heart of Highland capital

By Scott Maclennan

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Shoppers will be offered one hour of free parking at Rose Street multi-storey car park in a bid to drive up footfall in the Highland capital's centre.

The initiative, from June to August, was developed by Highland Council officers at the request of the local authority’s Inverness city and area recovery group, and is described as a “core element of the bounce-back recovery programme” in response to the pandemic.

The initial plan put forward was for one month only, but city councillors called for that to be extended, citing severe challenges faced by retailers.

Councillors agreed any loss of income will be offset by increasing prices for longer stay tariffs.

Councillor Carolyn Caddick said: “I think we need to encourage people back into the city. I don’t think we have got enough people on the streets.

“We need to make it easy for people.”

Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael said: “I am thrilled that members of the City of Inverness Area Committee have reached agreement to implement a new range of parking tariffs for a three-month period, which we are optimistic will increase footfall to the city centre, aiding recovery from the impact of coronavirus and to support retail business as they begin trading once again.

“Anyone affected by the modest rise in the long-stay parking can purchase a parking permit that provides over 50 per cent discount on their annual parking fees.”

Councillors also agreed to the installation of parking meters at two new locations in Inverness – Torvean Car Park (created as a result of the development of the West Link Road) and Shore Street Quay – on a voluntary basis initially.

Free parking has been one of the trump cards of town's like Dingwall which boasts extensive space for visitors to park.

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