FREE parking will be introduced in Carlisle city centre after 3pm, the new Conservative city council leader has promised.

Before the local elections, the Tories pledged to launch a pilot scheme - initially covering 1,000 parking spaces in the Castle, Viaduct and Caldew Riverside car parks - if they were to take control.

Having now been elected as Carlisle City Council leader, John Mallinson said the free parking move was definitely still on their agenda, to give the city centre a needed boost.

“Free parking is a priority thing for us. It is a pilot but we think it will work. We are looking to bring more people into the city at a relatively quiet time of day,” he said.

“We hope it may be a catalyst to extend the day for the city centre. On its own it won’t cure the issues we have in the city centre, but it will help.

“These issues are not unusual or unique to Carlisle in any way. City centres are going through a period where change is necessary.

“They won’t quite follow the model that we’ve come to accept over decades.

“I think they will become different - still very much with a retail focus but maybe also more residential or with more of a leisure mix. We need to accept that. Amazon isn’t going to go away.”