Plans to modernise parking facilities across the Moorlands have been approved by the District Council.
Key changes to be introduced over the next 12 months include:
· The introduction of short free parking periods at some car parks to support quick trips into town centres
· Increasing the options for payment, including the implementation of contactless digital payments such as Pay By Phone, in addition to coin only methods
· Reviewing the permits currently available to offer more flexibility for customers and creating a tourist pass
· Developing an electric vehicle strategy to look at suitable locations and types of chargers provided in the Moorlands alongside joint working with the County Council on a wider strategy to encourage greater use of electric vehicles
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council provides around 1,750 parking spaces in 27 car parks in towns and villages across the District and has reviewed how these facilities are managed and delivered to ensure they are fit for the future.
As part of that review, industry experts Parking Matters were appointed to carry out public consultation last year. Over 770 online responses were received from members of the public alongside views from interest groups, including councillors and tourism and business organisations.
Councillor Andrew Hart, Cabinet member for Property and Tourism, said: "Following public consultation it's clear that we need to balance a number of aims to ensure parking supports the future growth of our towns and villages and offers our residents, businesses and visitors the amenities they need as technologies change and we adapt to new ways of living and working post-Covid.
"It's not an easy task but what we've agreed is a package of measures that supports our wider regeneration and economic growth priorities whilst prioritising some of the things people have told us they want to see addressed.
"These arrangements will be reviewed In 12 months so we can evaluate the impact of these changes."
Charges will apply from 8am to 6pm Mondays to Saturdays in Biddulph and Leek. Sundays will remain free and, for the first time, at Wharf Road in Biddulph people will be able to park for free for an hour at any time.
In Leek, 30 minutes free parking will be offered at any time at the following car parks: Buxton Road; Joliffe Street; Moorlands House; Smithfield South; Stockwell Street; and Vicarage Road.
The implementation of the revised payment hours and the associated free concessions have been deferred in Cheadle and will be reviewed later in the year when the outcomes from the High Streets Task Force and Masterplan development are known. In the meantime, drivers will continue to pay for parking between 9.30am and 3.30pm as at present.
Councillor Hart added: "Whilst any decision to raise parking charges is not one we take lightly it is the first time for four years that we've done so and we are introducing free parking periods at certain car parks at the same time.
"Good, well managed car parks will be an asset to our towns so it's important that we drive forward with our new strategy to make sure parking is contributing to keeping the Moorlands thriving as we move past the Covid period.