PARKING charges have been suspended at multi-storey car parks, on-street pay and display bays and other council-owned car parks in the town.

The temporary suspension means that free parking is available at any time in the town centre’s multi-storey car parks at the Octagon, Deane Road and Topp Way, and all other car parks operated by NCP.

On-street parking with pay and display ticket machines will also be free until further notice.

A council spokesman said: “We have suspended parking charges for all NCP-managed multi-storey car parks, all surface car parks including Ashburner Street, and for on-street pay and display parking bays.”

Bolton Council has made the decision in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

This comes after many local authorities across the country, including neighbouring Bury Council, suspended parking charges for the time being.

Royal Bolton Hospital was among the first in the country to offer its staff free parking last week.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust introduced free car parking on March 23, two days before the government announced free car parking for NHS staff with immediate effect at hospitals and other medical facilities for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Most of the car parks in Bolton town centre are managed by NCP Ltd.

Car parks elsewhere in the borough usually offer free parking at all times.

On-street parking  in the town centre is usually available for a maximum stay of one or two hours with pay and display ticket machines.

Most of these bays are operational on Monday to Saturday from 8.30am to 6pm but free outside of these hours.

Parking in these bays will be free at all times until further notice.

The town centre’s three multi-storey car parks which are operated by NCP usually offer free parking on weekends and bank holidays.

Plans emerged earlier this year to scrap this free parking offer in favour of a discounted price of £1 to be charged for up to two hours before normal tariffs of up to £6.10 kick in.

But these plans to scrap free parking in the town centre have been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Market Place shopping centre announced it would close until further notice on Tuesday, March 24.

This means the shopping centre car park, which usually offers 60 minutes of free parking seven days a week and free parking from 5pm every day, is also closed.