AS HELSTON prepares for a second free parking day as part of the West Briton's Go To Town! initiative, the possibility of making it a more permanent arrangement has been discussed.
Cornwall Council is offering free parking in the car parks it runs in Helston and Porthleven next Wednesday as part of the campaign to encourage people to use their local town centres.
Although the authority had said it was keen to back the campaign, there was concern that providing free parking would put additional pressure on the parking budget.
However, its former leader Alec Robertson, who represents a Helston division, agreed when he was still leader to use some of his personal contingency fund to cover the loss of income.
Free parking will be available after 9.30am on October 31 in Trengrouse Way and Tyacke Road car parks.
Car parks not run by Cornwall Council are not involved.
Those wishing to benefit must display a voucher from today's West Briton (see page 18).
At Thursday's Helston Town Council meeting Councillor David Swift referred to an initiative at Camborne, where parking had been free for the first two hours.
The impetus for this came from local traders. "They say it's increasing footfall," said Mr Swift.
However, Cornwall councillor Andrew Wallis said local businesses had reimbursed Cornwall Council for the loss of revenue.
Jonathan Birkett, Helston's town centre manager, referred to the newly formed Helston Business Improvement Partnership, which is largely made up of traders.
He said: "If we deem that's the right thing to do we could do the same thing."
David Harris, speaking from the public gallery, asked why money given to the town by local supermarkets as a condition of planning permission could not be used to offer free parking in Helston for two weeks before Christmas.
Mayor Jonathan Radford-Gaby replied that while this was technically possible, it would have to come from a project bid submitted by the Business Improvement Partnership.
Mr Birkett agreed that free parking would encourage more footfall in Helston and said he was hoping to bring forward some ideas in the new year.