Forest of Dean District Council has amended its draft budget to include a proposal that drivers be able to park for free for the first hour at town and village car parks while others pay more for longer stays.
The new proposal comes with the council having taken on board views gathered in a public consultation about a previous plan to raise charges by 300 per cent for up to two hours — from 50p to £2.
The change of proposal will no doubt be welcomed by residents and businesses who feared the previous plan would damage town centre trade.
It is hoped that the new charges would actually increase footfall in Forest town centres, boosting trade for businesses while improving safety for pedestrians with fewer people parking on residential streets and in other places.
Under the new proposal, charges for longer stays — of more than one hour — will still be increased in line with the previous plan.
The council wants to increase parking charges in order to raise more funding for town centre improvements, including to its car parks and public toilets.
Leader of Forest of Dean District Council Mark Topping said: 'The feedback around car parking charges showed that many people understand why charges need to be raised, but that they felt there needed to be more free spaces available in our car parks.
'We have listened to resident’s feedback, and we are proposing car parks will be free for the first hour, but that charges for longer stays will be raised.
'We believe this will help local people who need to visit the shops, or the doctor's surgery, but will also help us to increase revenue to maintain and make improvements to the car parks and toilets.
'We also believe that by expanding the free parking available in our car parks it will reduce the number of people parking on residential streets, on kerbs and other places. Helping to make the roads and pavements around our town centres safer for residents.'