A LOYALTY scheme to encourage people to shop local is being introduced.

More details have been released on how Town Hall chiefs are backing businesses as they start to trade following the easing of lockdown restrictions ­— as the green light was given to free weekday parking in Bolton town centre yesterday.

The Bolton News reported last week that Bolton Council has put together £1.25 million package of measures to support businesses in Bolton, which includes the parking offer.

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Still in its early stages, the loyalty scheme will include competitions and promotions such as money off vouchers.

The Bolton News:

This will be complemented with a marketing campaign highlighting what is on offer to local residents.

Town hall chiefs say the initiatives are part of a longer-term plans to back business in Bolton, with the focus also being on the night-time economy.

The say that a “specific campaign will be developed” to support the town’s leisure industry including theatres, cinemas and museums.

There are also plans to look at relaxing conditions to allow outdoor seating in areas outside bars, restaurants and cafes, and is looking at how to make streets and roads safer.

A council report detailing the plans, stated: “In order to ensure that town centres are sustainable on a longer-term basis, it is important that we repurpose them to make them an attractive place that people want to visit, work and live. We want to ensure that the town centres become a destination in their own right, that they provide a day into night offer that is all age friendly.”

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In a week’s time or so shoppers visiting Bolton town centre will be able to park for up to two hours free of charge in the Octagon, Topp Way and Deane Road NCP multi storey car parks. Weekend and bank holiday parking remains free in the multi-storeys.

The parking offer will also apply to on-street in play and display bays and Bolton Market’s Ashburner Street car park. That will come into force within a month.

Bolton Council said it will announce the dates as soon as the machines for the multi-storey and on-street are reconfigured.

Bolton Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Martyn Cox, said: "We are working on new innovative schemes to attract people back into the town centre. There is a mix of financial incentives and safety reassurance about coming back into the town centre.

"Officers are working on the details in close collaboration with businesses, which are driving it as much as we are."