THE use of council-run carparks is to remain free for an extra month as part of moves to help support businesses re-open as lockdown eases.

Parking charges in council car parks and on streets was temporarily suspended when the coronavirus pandemic began in March.

The move was intended to support key workers as they moved around the borough for work during the lockdown, or to shop for essentials, and to help vulnerable residents.

Shops are now reopening and charges will be re-introduced with effect from Monday August 3.

Wirral Council's cabinet member for community services, Cllr Julie McManus, said: "The suspension of car parking charges at the outset of the pandemic was a useful measure to help key workers and those struggling financially under the lockdown.

"It is vital now that as we move to the next stage of tackling this pandemic and more shops and businesses re-open that we support them.

"This additional month of free parking will, I hope, encourage people to begin supporting local businesses again.

"By adding an extra month to the suspension of car parking charges I hope people will be sensible and not all rush to the shops at the same time.

"The coronavirus has not gone away yet - we are just moving on to a new phase of dealing with the illness and I would urge everyone to remember to follow social distancing and handwashing advice."

The cost of the one month suspension of charges is estimated to be in the region of £30,000 to £50,000.

Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber of Commerce, said: "We welcome this latest move from Wirral Borough Council as part of a series of significant steps taken by the authority over the past few months to support communities and small businesses throughout this pandemic.

"Whilst coronavirus is still rife across the country and remains a risk it is vital that our businesses and local council work in partnership to get through this delicate stage of our economy slowly starting to re-start.

"With Wirral Chamber's key campaign on saving local high-streets, on behalf of all small businesses we welcome this with open arms."

Wirral's Labour Group leader and cabinet member for finance & resources, Cllr Janette Williamson, said: "I am pleased to support this recommendation which fits well with this council’s focus on encouraging people to support local business such as by buying local.

"It will also play a part in our wider Community Wealth Building Strategy which we want to see redirect wealth back into the local economy."