COLCHESTER Council will be supporting town centre businesses by allowing people to visit the town for longer and pay less for parking.

The council has announced from tomorrow people who pay for parking with the MiPermit app will be entitled to extra 50 per cent free parking time.

The offer is available in all Colchester town centre car parks, except for the Vineyard Street as it has a maximum two-hour stay limit, and will run until September.

Blue badge holders will also be able to park for free for up to five hours, rather than the current three-hour limit.

Sam Good, Our Colchester’s Business Improvement District manager, said it welcomed the initiative and hoped it will help boost trade as shops start to re-open after the lockdown.

He said: “We’re supportive of any kind of discount scheme which will attract people to the town centre.

“We’ve been in conversations with the council throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the BID is supportive to encourage people back to town.”

Mike Lilley, the council’s portfolio holder for communities, wellbeing and public safety, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to access the town centre as shops start to reopen following the relaxation of lockdown rules.

“MiPermit is easy to use and it is also an effective contactless way of paying for your parking, helping to stop the spread of the virus.”

The council’s budgeted income from car parking for 2020 and 2021 was £3.97million.

The coronavirus crisis has dramatically affected people’s travel patterns, with a significant reduction in car journeys.

A council spokesman said: “The forecast up to June, was that coronavirus could impact council income by around £850,000.

“Longer term, however, council car parking income could be reduced by up to £1.2million in the financial year that started on April 1.

“This figure is based on the probability of low income until the end of June and a gradual recovery up to the year end but this will become clearer as the extent and length of the economic downturn becomes known.”

The MiPermit app can be downloaded at with other payment options including the online portal, text or phone call.