STOURBRIDGE traders have welcomed plans to introduce additional free parking in a bid to encourage more shoppers to use the town centre.
Dudley Council has revealed that a number of on-street parking spaces will be created to rev up trade in the town but it is not yet known how many or where they will be.
Transport boss Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for transportation, said: “Dudley Council is the exception to the rule across the whole Black Country in that we do not charge for on-street parking in any of our town centres.
"Stourbridge has free on-street parking throughout the High Street, Lower High Street and Market Street and working with local councillors, plans are already in place to increase the number of free spaces to support shoppers and traders further.
"We hope to be in a position to announce this additional free parking shortly."
He added: “In addition to a number of council pay and display car parks, visitors to the town also have access to the free three hour parking on offer in the 550 space Tesco car park after Dudley Council worked in partnership to carry out the multi-million pound regeneration project for the town.”
Town trader Clive Sowerby, who runs Sowerby’s Shoes in Lower High Street, said "it was about time" and added: "Traders have suffered a lot due to the recession and coping with the rebuilding of the town centre but there is tremendous opportunity now, with Stourbridge looking as it does."
Rich Kenwrick, owner of Top Dog T Shirts, in Foster Street, added: "I think it is a brilliant idea, Stourbridge needs more free parking because it is difficult.
"I've had customers mention that it's a nightmare to park around here, even though we've got Tesco, not everyone is aware they can use it and for the elderly it is quite a walk from the top of town."
High Street trader Roger Eames of Celebrations card shop, agreed: "I think anything that encourages people to use the town is going to be very beneficial. It's very positive. Not everyone finds it easy to park in a multi-storey and for different reasons, like to park on the street."
The news comes days after UKIP councillors Paul Bradley and Paul Brothwood announced their intention to campaign for greater free parking in the town.
They have joined forces with West Midlands MEP James Carver to help "remove trade barriers" and "revitalise local shopping areas".
Cllr Bradley said: “At the moment everyone parks at the Tesco store because of the free parking. It’s common sense really - the introduction of free parking in other areas would centralise things.”
Cllr Brothwood added: “As a local business owner I understand the frustrations of small businesses.
“Providing greater free parking provision would fuel additional footfall and trade in Stourbridge.”