The council is hoping to entice shoppers back to Epping High Street with massively reduced parking fees.

Epping Forest District Council is offering two-and-a-half hours parking for just 20p in Epping, meaning people get an extra two hours for the usual price of a 30-minute stay.

At a council meeting on June 22, Cllr Chris Whitbread, leader of the council, said: “We need to look particularly at our high streets to make sure they recover from this dreadful experience in regard to Covid.”

He added: “Epping has always had a vibrant mix of shops, cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants all of which have suffered the effects of Covid-19, as a Council we are committed to doing everything in our power to encourage people back onto our high street, reviving its vibrancy.

“Although we are removing a few high street parking spaces to meet the government’s social distancing guidelines, and to protect local people from the spread of Covid, we are compensating by offering cheaper parking – 20p for two and a half hours. And on Mondays we are freeing up spaces in Cottis Lane and Bakers Lane car parks by encouraging market traders to park commercial vehicles in our Civic Office car park.”

At the June 22 meeting, Cllr Dave Plummer questioned the decision, pointing towards a possible increase in pollution due to increased traffic.

He said: "WE have reduced parking charges, when they are not that expensive anyway, which is just encouraging people to use cars to get into our high streets. Obviously that is not a good thing either environmentally or from a public health perspective."

The Green Party councillor asked if the council had looked into alternatives to help 'rejuvenate town centres without increasing traffic flow.'

Cllr Whitbread retorted his first priority was "to protect our high streets and encourage business in our high streets" but did note the increase in people walking to high street shops during the coronavirus pandemic had been a positive and added he would continue to encourage people to behave in an eco-friendly manner.

Sixteen of the 80 parking bays in Epping High Street will temporarily be removed to support social distancing, paid for through a bid for government funds in a partnership with Essex County Council.


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