Bad weather is good news for drivers as free parking foes on in Rugby town centre

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FREE weekend parking at a council-owned car park looks likely to be extended.

The three-month trial started at the Newbold Road car park in April.

Now it is to continue until September.

It was first launched in an effort to support town centre businesses in the difficult economic climate.

Aftab Gaffar, Rugby First Operations Director, said it was a great help to local businesses in challenging economic times.

Local businesses welcomed the idea and praised Rugby Borough Council for their recent efforts.

They said free town centre car parking can make a real difference and allows the town centre to compete on a level footing with some of the out-of-town retail parks.

The scheme was due to be evaluated this month - but a combination of poor weather, a large number of events a the Benn Hall and the move of the Spring Fair to Caldecott park means such an exercise would be meaningless, according to council official Sean Lawson.

And he believes this would be the wrong time to abandon the scheme, with the Rugby Festival of Culture due to begin on July 2.

In his report to the council’s cabinet, he said: “As this is a showcase series of events, it seems inappropriate to curtail the free weekend parking trial just as it is due to commence.

“In addition, there will be a number of events over the summer in Caldecott Park.

“It is therefore considered appropriate to extend the trial over the summer period and schedule the review and evaluation of this free weekend parking initiative for September 2012.

Before the trial began, Mr Lawson, the council’s head of environmental services at Rugby Borough Council, said: “We hope people will take advantage of the free car parking, save money on fuel by shopping local and support their town centre at the same time.”

The extension of the trial is recommended for approval by the council’s cabinet on June 6.

The meeting is open to the public.