A SCHEME to provide free parking for shoppers in Colwyn Bay and Rhos on Sea has been met with mixed reactions from business owners.

The £3,500 venture, funded by Colwyn Business Improvement District (BID), was introduced following worries of a potential fall in trade during the ongoing seafront improvements.

Charges at the 64-space Colwyn Avenue car park in Rhos will be suspended until the end of February, while parking in Princes Drive car park, Colwyn Bay – which has 49 spaces – is free until New Year’s Day.

Philip Andrews, owner of Colwyn Bay Pet Shop in Sea View Road, said: “I know the story behind it is the work on the front, but it’s the council’s doing.

“They’ve also closed Lansdowne Road car parking because they’re knocking the building down there.

“They have minimised the parking so they should be giving us the free parking. I don’t think the BID’s money should be used for that.”

Neil Wood, owner of Wood’s Welsh Cards, said: “Free parking is always going to encourage more people.

“If you’ve got to pay to park you’re not going to park there and unfortunately that means people go straight to the shopping centre where they get two hours for free.”

BID chairman Huw Edwards said: “The idea came following a meeting with businesses in November, when some traders raised concerns that shoppers may be put off because of the diversions in place due to the waterfront improvements.

“It’s a little early yet to say how it’s going, but the car parks certainly seem busym – as do the shops.”

BID project manager Anna Openshaw said: “We are focusing on the long-term impact that the BID can have on businesses and the communities we serve – to improve our environment, ensure that we tempt shoppers to the four business areas, and encourage tourists and day trippers to return again and again.”