Wyre Forest District Council has outlined plans for a new temporary incentive scheme to help small independent businesses in Bewdley town centre recover from the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Small independent shops and businesses in the town centre are being urged to take part in the scheme designed to attract shoppers in to the town and boost trade in the wake of the pandemic.

Councillor Fran Oborski, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, Planning and Capital Investments, said: “We are introducing the strictly time-limited scheme to support the town’s independent shops as they begin trading again after lockdown.

“The scheme recognises the exceptional circumstances in Bewdley which, unlike Kidderminster and Stourport, has no significant free car parking provided for users of supermarkets and other shopping developments.”

From Monday 29 June to Friday 31 July, anyone paying to park in a Council-owned car park in Bewdley will be able to claim a discount of £2 if they spend at least £5 in a participating independent shop in the town, which is equivalent to the cost of two hours’ parking. During this time, ticket machines will issue two tickets for those paying by cash, one of which should be placed in the vehicle and the other can be used to obtain the £2 discount.

“We are still strongly encouraging people to pay for parking using the JustPark app and online methods in order to minimise risk of spreading COVID-19. People who have paid using JustPark or who have a valid season ticket will be able to confirm their payment for parking by showing their receipt on the screen of their mobile phone to a participating retailer.”

Next week, Council staff will be talking to independent shops and businesses in Bewdley to see which of them would like to work with the Council in operating the discount scheme. They would be offered a grant to do so and their participation would feature in publicity material about the scheme.

Restaurants, pubs and cafes will not be able to join the scheme because they are not expected to be open until 4 July at the earliest and that date is not certain.

Councillor Ballinger, the Leader of the Council, added: “The Council has provided over £20 million of grants to town centre and other businesses across the district in the last couple of months in line with schemes funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

“We have also awarded millions of pounds of business rates reliefs to retail and other sectors, again funded by the Government.

“And last month we also launched our £1m discretionary grant scheme for small and medium-sized businesses that were not eligible for the Government grants – the closing date for this scheme is 30 June.

“So businesses in all our towns have benefitted from significant amounts of direct support. It far outweighs this modest temporary scheme which is estimated to cost £16k and which recognises the special circumstances in Bewdley.”

Councillor Oborski concluded: “The economic benefit for the town will depend on how many people take part and cannot easily be predicted. However, because people will need to spend at least £5 in order to qualify for a £2 discount, we are confident that the scheme will significantly help Bewdley’s gradual recovery from the COVID-19 lockdown.”