PEOPLE will be able to use council car parks in the Taunton and Minehead areas for free "for the foreseeable future".

The move by Somerset West and Taunton Council is part of its plan to support the re-opening of high streets and to help rejuvenate the local economy.

Cllr Mike Rigby, executive member for planning and transportation, said: "Free car parking for the foreseeable future will support the reopening of our high streets, which is vital as we recover from this pandemic.

"We are doing all we can to support shoppers and business, planning changes to our pavements and roads to allow social distancing.

"Of course, it will mean an immediate hit to our income, but we are looking at the bigger picture and how we can have an impact on the economic and social recovery which is key to all our futures."

The policy does NOT extend to on-street parking across Somerset, where enforcement patrols were due to restart yesterday (Monday) following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

SWT Council leader Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts said: "As we emerge from this crisis, leadership, clarity and swift decision-making are needed more than ever.

"This will give our businesses certainty and the knowledge that they have the backing of their council.

"We are working hard to produce an economic and social recovery programme that will aim to make our society better and stronger.

"We will need the help, ideas and support of everyone to make this happen."