Parking charges in Romsey are to be reinstated next week but there is a chance parking around town may continue to be free if the impact on the local economy is particularly positive, a local councillor has said.

This year, parking fees were scrapped twice across Test Valley to help people during the first and second lockdown.

As it stands, charges are due to resume on December 10, eight days since the lockdown was lifted, but there’s a chance it might not happen.

Cllr John Parker, who represents Romsey Tadburn on Test Valley Borough Council, said: “I think it was a good idea to give it a go for another week. Now that the lockdown has stopped and non-essential shops are open again we can see how that draws people into town.

“If it’s proving particularly successful in drawing people in maybe we can persuade the borough council to extend it a bit further.”

Cllr Parker acknowledged that although the council is “not insolvent”, loss of income from parking charges is a “problem”.

During the first lockdown, the rationale behind scrapping fees was to provide more parking as opposed to draw people into town. As most people were working from home, there wasn’t enough space for cars which during the day would usually be parked elsewhere.

However, having said that, the seven-day extension after December 2 was “a good move”, he said.

Asked whether he would personally push for an extension to the current parking fees suspension, Cllr Parker said: “We need to wait to hear from local traders. If [free parking] is a catalyst for getting people back into the shops, I’m more than happy to try and encourage the Cabinet to make the decision to continue with the parking charges suspension in the run up to Christmas but we have to see what happens.”

In March councils received funding from the government to compensate them for suspending parking charges. However, no compensation was provided during the second lockdown.