Parking charges are to be suspended in Beaminster in the wake of an attempted cashpoint raid.

West Dorset District Council voted in favour of parking concessions in a bid to encourage visitors to the town while work continues to clean up and repair the wall of the former bank at the Fleet Street corner of The Square.

The area remains cordoned off with work needed to repair structural damage resulting from the mid-August ram raid.

The committee was told temporary traffic lights and a one-way system have resulted in a loss of parking at The Square and visitors are being put off by the the appearance of restricted parking and the traffic controls. This, councillors heard, has had a negative effect on local shops and businesses.

The strategy committee approved free parking at the short stay section of Yarn Barton while work - expected to take at least three months -continues and to show support for small businesses in Beaminster.

Committee chairman Cllr Anthony Alford said concerns had been raised about the state of the road and concessions will motivate people to stop in the town, rather than pass through.

"These proposals provide encouragement to stop and enjoy the attractions of Beaminster," he said.

"This move underlines our commitment to promote Beaminster as a great place to visit.  We continue to encourage visitors to enjoy its range of independent shops and eateries.”

Cllr Peter Barrowcliff agreed, saying the suspension of charges was a positive sign to encourage people back to Beaminster.

Councillors will consider free parking in The Square once it is known how many spaces will be available.

Cllr John Russell, WDDC portfolio holder for environmental protection and assets, said: “We are pleased to approve a temporary suspension of short stay charges. Every day I see the pressure that the traffic management system is having on businesses, schools, visitors and other users of the road.”

The Yarn Barton car park's short stay section has a two-hour maximum stay length and a long stay section where vehicles can park all day. The short stay section has 10 spaces, and the maximum stay will remain in place to ensure turnover of spaces.

The cost of using just the 10 short-stay spaces at Yarn Barton is expected to be around £700.

The long stay adds another £4,600, assuming the concessions remain in place for three months.

The likely cost of only having half the spaces in The Square in use has been put at £1,500.