PLANS are under way to boost high street trade in three Cherwell communities with free parking, new signs and visitor information.

Cherwell District Council was awarded £100,000 from the Town Centre Innovation Fund by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The money was divided – with £50,000 going to Banbury, £30,000 for Bicester and £20,000 for Kidlington.

Some of the money has already been spent on paying the running costs for providing free parking in Banbury and Bicester.

Of its remaining £25,000, Banbury will spend £10,000 improving signs to encourage people to shop in the town.

The remaining £15,000 will be used to fund the Banbury Town Centre Co-ordination project, allowing traders to work together to promote shopping.

In Bicester, the remaining £15,000 will be used to provide 30 grants to independent traders to cover 75 per cent of the costs of a year-long radio advertising campaign.

The money will also provide 30 grants to retailers to cover 50 per cent of the costs of improving business websites.

The £20,000 of funds allocated for Kidlington will be spent on constructing screening for the toilet block.

The cash will also help to fund additional Welcome to Kidlington information to assist visitors.

Norman Bolster, lead member for economy and estates, said: “In 2012 we used part of these funds to offset the cost of free parking in Banbury and Bicester and while this was successful, the benefits were temporary.

“As we cannot afford to offer free parking all-year-round, we needed to consider other ways to use this one-off funding.”