'Free parking in Doncaster is a step in the right direction'Â

Market Place car park, DoncasterMarket Place car park, Doncaster
Market Place car park, Doncaster
 The run up to Christmas is for many people one of the busiest times of the year. For shops, this is particularly true as we seek out the perfect gifts for family and friends.Â

The changing mindset from shopping in chains and mega-stores, that some condemn as symbols as rampant commercialism, to striving to find gifts that are a little more unique has been a saving grace for many of Yorkshire's independent retailers. In a time of increasing online spending and economic uncertainty, the trend to buy local is at the heart of revitalising our town centres.

However, if the personal touch of the high street is to exist outside our collective nostalgia and survive the harsh light of economic reality, we must ensure small/medium enterprises and town-centre market traders can compete. I was pleased therefore last week to read that Doncaster Council will again be offering free car parking at Markets Car Park, St Georges Car Park and Colonnades Car Park after 2pm from Saturday 1 December to Friday 4 January.

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Increasing town centre footfall was one of the central tenets of my by-election campaign in Town Ward, Doncaster, earlier this year. The Yorkshire Party's plan to cut car parking costs, reconsider race-day shuttle bus routes to encourage visitors to walk through the town centre rather than bypassing it on route to the racecourse and the introduction of periods of free parking year round would have the dual benefits of boosting local businesses and reducing pressure on local residents affected by on-street parking.

Doncaster Council should be praised for taking a step in the right direction towards. Nevertheless, we must remember that as important as this time of year is, businesses have to survive all year round. If Yorkshire's village, town and city-centres are truly going to prosper such initiatives must extend throughout the year.

Therefore, the Yorkshire Party will continue to champion local businesses that are at the heart of our communities and Yorkshire's future success.

Chris Whitwood, deputy leader, Yorkshire Party

Kings Arcade, Doncaster