Businesses should help towards the funding of free city centre parking in Sheffield, councillors have claimed.
Plans are under way to create a second business improvement district in the city – allowing firms in the area to vote on any additional services they want to invest in to boost trade.
The government has awarded £28,000 to help set up a city centre scheme – which it is predicted could generate an estimated £800,000 an year.
Coun Ian Auckland, Sheffield Liberal Democrat spokesman for local business, said: “Charging for parking on evenings on Sundays is a poorly-thought out policy, which has dealt a blow to city-centre businesses.
“We’ve shown that, by cutting back on projects, we can reverse this policy.
“However, with extra investment from this fund, firms could go further and deliver free parking on Saturdays .
“Ultimately, it’s up to city centre businesses to decide how this funding will be spent, but I believe a radical alternative on parking could deliver the boost our city-centre needs.”
The money is being used to help fund work to set up the district, which would be Sheffield’s second after a flood defence scheme in the Lower Don Valley.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business, said firms could decide to fund parking schemes if the district was created, but there was a ‘huge amount of work’ still to be done.
A ballot is to take place in October.
He said: “The businesses in a district are the ones paying for services, so they make the decisions. It is not for politicians to decide what they spend it on.”
Business improvement districts exist all over the world.
They are defined areas in which business pay an extra tax or levy to fund projects to boost the economy within that area.
As well as subsidising parking, cash could be spent on late-night street cleaning, marketing and events.