PRESSURE is mounting on City of York Council to introduce an element of free parking in the city centre in the run up to Christmas as shops prepare to reopen on Monday.

With York's three main department stores, Brown's, Fenwick and Barnitts set to reopen on Monday (June 15) Brown's boss, Nick Brown, has joined calls for the first two hours parking to be free of charge.

Meanwhile in Selby district free parking has just been extended across council car parks.

Browns is reopening its flagship department store in Davygate, and its three other stores in Helmsley, Beverley and Gainsborough, with perspex screens around counters, hand sanitisers available and visors and masks offered for staff.

Mr Brown said: "Staff will be having training on Saturday and Sunday in preparation for Monday's reopening. We're keen to welcome the customers back, but we're fully aware that they'll be thinking of their own health.

"In Ryedale you get the first two hours free in car parks and it would be great if York could do the same in the run up to Christmas. That could be a real catalyst to help the city centre to rejuvenate.

"I think the customers will appreciate it very much particularly as Government advice is to avoid public transport if you can at the moment."

Mr Brown explained, that, although there will be a maximum number of customers allowed in store at any one time, with 45,000 square feet of floor space in York it shouldn't be a problem.

Mr Brown's comments echo those of Barnitts boss Paul Thompson, who earlier this month made a similar call for the council to offer two hours of free car parking as an incentive until Christmas to encourage people back.

He said: “We all want it back to normal. We all have to do our bit to prevent the virus spreading but the economy has to open at some point. It is going to be a very slow start.”

When York Brown's reopens on Monday there will be a slight change to opening hours from 9.30am-6pm Monday to Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sundays.

A City of York Council spokesman said: "The council is encouraging the safe return of residents and visitors and is considering incentivised short stay parking in some of the city’s car parks. More details will be announced on this shortly."