Shops hope for a super Saturday with free parking

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SMALL businesses are hoping for a bonanza tomorrow as the council offers free parking across the Havant borough.

In an unprecedented move, Havant Borough Council is waiving parking fees at all of its car parks.

People using any council car park in Havant, Waterlooville, Emsworth, Leigh Park and Hayling Island will be able to park for free for any three-hour period tomorrow.

Drivers can hop from different shopping centres and still park for free as long as it is for not more than three hours.

Small Business Saturday is being held for the first time in the UK after becoming a runaway success in the US.

It comes as a lifeline to many businesses which have had to struggle following a hike in parking charges earlier this year.

Marie Telford, who owns The Hayling Island Bookshop in Mengham and wrote to the council to ask for the initiative, said: ‘It’s very helpful of the council to support Small Business Saturday with this car parking offer and I hope lots of people will take advantage of it and support their local businesses across Havant borough.

‘With effectively free parking that day you can afford to visit all the retail areas in the borough and check them all out.’

Mrs Telford added that she hoped this would become an annual event in the area.

Havant MP David Willetts will visit Mengham at about 11am tomorrow to visit the local shops.

He said: ‘Small companies make up 99 per cent of businesses in the UK.

‘Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to celebrate the huge contribution they make to the growth of the economy.’

Council leaders say they are committed to supporting small businesses.

Its business grant scheme is now in its fourth year and has supported 240 businesses out of a cash pot of around £120,000.

Councillor Yvonne Weeks, who oversees economy and communities, said: ‘I hope that the free parking will encourage more people to come and see what they have to offer.

‘There are around 700 independent small businesses in the borough’s town centres and they are vital to the local economy.’

East Hampshire District Council is also encouraging people to support traders in Horndean, Rowlands Castle, Clanfield and Petersfield.