Carlisle City Council is set to introduce changes to its car parks in a bid to support the recovery of local businesses in the wake of the disruption caused by Covid-19.

A new "check in, check out" scheme is to be piloted at the West Walls car park, which will allow customers to pay for exactly the amount of time they have parked for, by using a credit or debit card to check in on arrival and check out upon leaving.

The city council hopes this new initiative will provide more flexibility to customers, who previously would have to ensure they return to their cars before their parking ticket expired.

Instead, this new system will allow customers to pay only for the car parking they need.

The city council is also extending its "early bird" parking offer. At present, there is a reduced parking charge for those arriving before 9.30am to park all day in the West Walls, Viaduct, The Sands and Swifts car parks from Monday to Friday.

This will now be extended to 10.30am, which the city council says takes into account the change in people’s travel patterns, and will allow greater flexibility for businesses to offer staggered start times for staff to support social distancing requirements.

Carlisle City Councillor Nigel Christian, portfolio holder for environment and transport, said: “The parking initiatives confirm our ongoing support for local businesses and retailers and the challenging conditions the high street is facing.

"We want to encourage the move to cashless transactions as it increases flexibility and convenience for customers.

"The West Walls check in, check out scheme is a new initiative and if it proves popular may be extended to more of our car parks.”

It is planned that the schemes will start in September.

When using Carlisle City Council car parks, customers are advised to follow social distancing guidance and if possible, pay by card or contactless rather than use cash and park in alternate bays.

The majority of council car parks provide contactless payment options including credit/debit card, mobile phone using MiPermit, Apple Pay and Android Pay.