Free parking could be rolled out to shop workers and delivery drivers if the leader of Bath and North Somerset Council’s calls are heard.
After putting them on hold at the start of the lockdown, the authority has now reintroduced charges in its car parks and on-street bays.
Health and social care workers can apply for permits for free parking while they are working, but that does not apply to others who previously have been classed as key workers.
Speaking during a Zoom meeting on the economy organised by Bath BID last week, Councillor Dine Romero said: “I’m lobbying Government to increase its definition of key workers.
“A lot of the people working in our shops, keeping food on our table, are struggling. Bath BID have resolved this for some of those workers.
“It’s a real problem at the moment when there aren’t as many alternatives to driving in.
“It doesn’t seem quite right that only a few workers are treated as key.”
The parking charges were paused on 25th March and reintroduced on 4th May.
Valid permits are also required if using residents’ parking bays.
Asked if the parking charges could be reduced to bring more people into the city centre, Cllr Romero said: “This is a dilemma. We need visitors. We need people to work in retail and hospitality but we don’t need the cars.
“Some of the income for the council is from parking but we don’t need the pollutants from cars, we don’t need them crowding our streets.”
Chief executive Will Godfrey said: “We spend £120million on all of our services. £35million is supported by income we generate, which is principally from three sources: commercial property, car park income and tourist activity.
“We have to manage that dilemma, between encouraging businesses and protecting the income base of the council to continue providing our core services around social care.”
Bath BID chief executive Allison Herbert said the business initiative had helped out delivery unloaders at M&S by securing them free parking at closed hotel The Bird.
“They couldn’t use the park and ride because it’s not up and running early enough and they didn’t want to pay the fees,” she said. “The Bird said while the hotel was closed they could use the car park.
“I felt it was really important to do what we could to support them. They are putting themselves at risk.”
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter