FREE early morning and late afternoon parking is to be introduced in some Bangor car parks in a bid to boost city centre trade.

The move, which has been backed by the cabinet, also protects similar arrangements already established in other Gwynedd towns where short-stay car parks only charge between 10am and 4:30pm.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, it had been proposed that a standardised enforcement period of between 9am and 5pm should be in place across all Gwynedd short-stay car parks.

In Bangor, where short-stay car parks have historically charged between 8am and 6pm, such a move would have brought the city in line with the rest of the county.

But instead, members backed an amendment designed to support both retailers and businesses by only enforcing parking charges at short-stay car parks between 10am and 4:30pm –  thus also protecting similar arrangements already established in towns such as Caernarfon, Pwllheli and Porthmadog.

Cllr Ioan Thomas, who proposed the amendment, said: “I think there’s significant benefit to our residents and businesses in our main centres by keeping the enforcement hours to between 10am and 4:30pm, which would be an improvement for the city of Bangor.

“I know from experience in Caernarfon that the right to park for free allows people to visit the town centre and do their shopping at the start and end of the day and is appreciated by businesses.”

According to officers, the move is expected to result in a reduction in income for the council of between £25,000 and £60,000, which will be funded from general reserves for the first year but subject to review.

Approving the remainder of the strategy, however, the move will also see price rises in some long stay car parks after it was felt there were too many length of stay options.

In those facilities, the current minimum £3 for four hours in the summer or £4.50 for eight hours in ‘Band 2’ long stay car parks during winter will to a £5 for 12 hours minimum charge – or £3 for 12 hours in the winter months.

In seasonal ‘Band 3’ car parks, the “unsustainably cheap” £1 for four hours or £2 for eight hours charge will also rise to a minimum of £3 for up to six hours of parking.

The cost an annual parking permit for Gwynedd residents will also rise from £125 a year to £140.

A council spokesman confirmed there would be a follow-up report in late summer to study the financial impact of reducing the enforcement time to 10am-4:30pm across short-stay car parks in Bands 1-3.