Councillors give green light to free Christmas parking in Hartlepool

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COUNCILLORS have agreed plans for shoppers to take advantage of free parking in town centre car parks all weekend in the run-up to Christmas.

Hartlepool Borough Council is to scrap parking fees on three Saturday’s in December to help give businesses a festive boost.

Parking on Sundays is already free but now councillors on the neighbourhood services committee have agreed to remove parking fees on Saturdays in December.

The plans were agreed despite warnings from officers that it will mean a drop of income of around £18,000.

The decision means shoppers will not need to pay to park on Saturday 7th, 14th and 21st of December.

Mike Blair, the council’s highways, traffic and transport manager, said neighbouring authorities such as Middlesbrough have recently introduced two-hours free parking and £1 for the full day.

He said that is something the council would consider long-term but for now they were looking to remove parking fees for three Saturday’s in December, making it free all weekend.

Labour councillor Peter Jackson, chairman of the neighbourhoods committee, said: “I think this is a great decision by the committee following a great idea by the officers.

“It is important for us to help bring people into the town centre, especially those that may be feeling the pinch.”

The festive parking plans were part of a report about the local authority’s parking strategy, a 10-year plan for parking provision, traffic management controls and enforcement measures.

It was also agreed to continue with the free after 4pm promotion on weekdays and that the current parking tariffs would remain as they are.

The report by Alastair Smith, the council’s assistant director of neighbourhoods, said car park usage has been in steady decline in recent years, which officers say is reflective of the current economy.

The report, which proposed scrapping Saturday charges, added: “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.”