Councillors have agreed to waive car-parking charges for motorists in all town centre car parks on Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas.
Shoppers already benefit from free parking on Sundays all-year round in town centre car parks, but they will now also be able to park for free on Saturday, December 5, 12, 19 and 26.
It is the third successive year the initiative has been introduced, which also includes all car parks and on-street parking in the Church Street area, the Transport Interchange and Mill House Leisure Centre.
The idea is designed to boost trade within the town centre, but also to ease the burden on shoppers at a time when many people are feeling the financial squeeze.
Coun Marjorie James, chairwoman of the council’s Neighbourhood Services Policy Committee, said: “The council recognises the hardship that many families are facing, so introducing free car parking on Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas is a way of offering a little help to people.”
Coun Kevin Cranney, chairman of the council’s Regeneration Services Committee, added: “Although the council faces its own financial pressures, it is so important that we continue to do everything we can to support local businesses whenever we can.
“Car parking charges can be a factor when people decide where to do their Christmas shopping, so suspending charges during weekends in December should encourage both residents and people outside the town to do their shopping in Hartlepool.”
Mark Rycraft, centre manager for Middleton Grange welcomed the announcement.
He said: “This is fantastic news for the centre and our shoppers. The council’s decision to provide free parking at such a crucial time in the retail calendar will benefit all our retailers, providing a great boost in trade.
“It offers our shoppers greater flexibility when visiting Middleton Grange for Christmas shopping.”
Motorists can also park free in many town centre car parks after 4pm as part of a similar initiative.
Car parks will also remain open to coincide with late-night opening in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre. Shops will stay open until 7.30pm on December 21, 22 and 23.
For further information, call the council on 01429 523333.