Plans for free Christmas parking in Hartlepool

PLAN: Alastair Smith
PLAN: Alastair Smith

SHOPPERS could soon take advantage of free parking in town centre car parks all weekend in the run-up to Christmas under new council plans.

Hartlepool Borough Council is considering scrapping parking fees for its car parks in the centre of town on Saturdays in a bid to give businesses a boost in the lead up to the festive period.

Parking is already free on Sundays but transport chiefs are now looking to make it free to park all weekend.

Councillors are being asked to support the proposals at a meeting next week but they are warned it will mean a drop in income of around £18,000.

The plans are set to be reported to the council’s neighbourhood services committee.

It is part of a report about the local authority’s parking strategy, a 10-year plan for parking provision, traffic management controls and enforcement measures within the whole town.

Alastair Smith, the council’s assistant director of neighbourhoods, said: “A further Christmas incentive of encouraging shoppers to Hartlepool is being considered where throughout December the pay and display parking charges on Saturday’s would be free.

“This would involve the suspension of a payment charge on three Saturday’s, the 7th, 14th and 21st of December.

“There would however be a loss of revenue to the service as a result of such parking charges which, based on the equivalent periods in 2011 and 2012, is estimated would equate to £18,000.”

Committee members are asked to endorse the proposed free parking on Saturday’s initiative throughout December and also to agree to continue with the free after 4pm promotion on weekdays.

The report added that car park usage in the town has been in steady decline in recent years, which officers say is reflective of the current economy.

Mr Smith: “The pattern is reflective both nationally and regionally and although this has caused some examination of parking charges in general, in Hartlepool the charges are reviewed annually and tariffs compared with neighbouring authorities to ensure they are competitive.”

The neighbourhood services committee is due to meet on Monday, November 11 at 9.30am at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.