Car parking charges will return to all district council run car parks in Huntingdonshire in two weeks’ time.

Car parking charges will return to all district council run car parks in Huntingdonshire in two weeks’ time.

District council bosses announced that the charges will come back into force from September 21.

It comes after a prolonged six months suspension in car parks to assist key workers during the lockdown period.

The free parking was extended throughout June, July and August to support the gradual reopening of the town centres - also forming part of the council’s wider #ReopeningHuntingdonshire campaign.

While charges are to be reinstated, parking remains free after 6pm and all-day on Sunday at all sites across the district.

The district council has developed and invested in a new digital system by Mi Permit, which extends payment options enabling people to pay via a range of contactless methods; via an app, SMS, Apple/Android pay as well as cash.

The reintroduction of charging includes restoring parking permits, pay and display car parks run by the district council and on-street parking.

Charges are to remain the same as they were pre-Covid when they are reinstated, and all sites will have the option for customers to pay via their mobile phone for extra ease and convenience.

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The ticket machines will be cleaned regularly, and hand sanitiser will be provided at each machine.

Councillor Marge Beuttell, executive councillor for operations and environment, said: “Since the end of March, we have suspended charges across all our car parks to support key workers and those who were unable to work safely from home throughout the lockdown period.

“However, as more people return to the workplace and visit our town centres again, car park usage is quickly returning to pre-Covid levels.

“We have delayed reinstating parking charges for as long as possible – whilst being mindful of the significant loss of revenue during the period of charges being suspended.

“The free parking that has been provided over the last few months has cost the district council around £1.3 million but it’s not sustainable for the council to continue to absorb such losses in addition to the wider financial impact of Covid-19 without it affecting vital frontline services.”

With council tax covering less than 50 per cent of the services the district council delivers, any surplus income generated from car parking directly supports services such as homelessness prevention, waste collection, street cleaning, and maintenance of our parks and open spaces.

This income will also be used to help HDC deliver the tens of millions of pounds of investment it is planning in boosting and regenerating our market towns to help them recover from Covid-19.

For permit holders who have had their pre-existing permit frozen, the district council will be in contact directly to reinstate permits.