THE decision to allow free after 3pm parking at the Culver Street Car Park is the beginning of a strong working relationship between Wiltshire Council and the business community of Salisbury, according the chairman of the Business Improvement District (BID).

Amanda Newbery praised Wiltshire Council for listening to the needs of the city's businesses in making the concession, which will begin at the end of the month. The Free After 3 allowance will be launched at the start of Independents’ Week (a week-long promotion and celebration of the city’s independent retailers and restaurants) which starts on June 30.

The county's traffic bosses made the decision following lobbying from the Salisbury Business Improvement District.

"It was one of a number of measures that BID suggested would improve conditions for shoppers and help traders in the city,” said Ms Newbery. “I think the council has to be praised for listening and, if this works, I am sure they will consider the other initiatives.

"The important thing is that we spread the word outside the city so that we attract people who might not necessarily have come here before."

The relaxation of the parking rules follows increased pressure from the city centre businesses, who claim high fees have had an impact on their trading.

Steve Dauwalder, owner of La Mollina Restaurant in the Market Place, said: “This initiative could not have come at a better time for Salisbury as we experience higher visitor numbers at this time of the year. With a number of new businesses having recently opened or about to open, traders are optimistic of a rosy future for the city."

Mr Dauwalder, who is also a BID director, added: “In addition to the parking initiatives, Wiltshire Council are also undertaking a refurbishment of the Culver Street Shoppers Car Park including rebranding as a Shoppers Car Park and working with the BID and the city council to create a more welcoming environment. This will include replanting and redecoration of some of the area.”