PLANS to introduce free parking after 2pm at most council-owned car parks in Wrexham have received the green light.

Senior councillors met today to run the rule over proposals to launch a 12 month trial in a bid to increase footfall in the town centre.

The initiative will run seven days a week and is now expected to start in early April after being given the backing of Wrexham Council’s executive board.

The offer will apply in all car parks operated by the local authority in the town except for the multi-storey above Tŷ Pawb.

Council leader Mark Pritchard said it was hoped it would provide a boost for local businesses.

Speaking at Wrexham’s Guildhall, he said: “It has been recognised by this council that parking plays a significant part in the choices that shoppers make when deciding where to visit.

“Therefore, in support of the town centre this is to be introduced within the town centre car parks.

“The goal of free after 2pm is a cross cutting initiative to increase the number of visitors and improve the local economy within Wrexham.

“This is much better for shoppers and what we are looking for is for a long term cultural change to encourage more town centre traffic and shopping in the afternoons.

“The initiative will be a 12 month trial starting in April during which a number of factors will be monitored such as footfall and car park usage to measure the initiative’s success.”

Ahead of the meeting, the scheme received the endorsement of business owners.

Members of Wrexham Town Centre Forum said they were ‘pleased’ by the council’s willingness to listen to their calls for new parking initiatives.

The proposals were also supported by backbench councillors although questions were raised over the impact on parking income.

They were told it would result in a reduction of £180,000, which would be addressed as part of the council’s budget process for next year.

Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones also asked whether the free period could be extended.

He said: “While I am supportive of this, was there any view to perhaps looking at free after 10am or 12pm and has there been an assessment made of how much that would cost?

“If we know it’s roughly £180,000 for this, could we get a figure for the other times?”

Cllr Pritchard said the authority had considered alternatives, but stressed the importance of achieving a balance financially.

He added there had been a positive response to the announcement from businesses and shoppers.

The proposals were unanimously backed by members of the executive board.