A TOUCH of the Christmas spirit entered Fareham Borough Council as it agreed to scrap parking charges in the town centre for two religious holidays.
People will now be able to park in Fareham’s newly-branded inner car parks, previously called short-stay car parks, for free on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.
Council leader Sean Woodward said: ‘I had received requests from churches to remove the parking charges on certain days.
‘I proposed that Christmas Day and Easter Sunday should be free of charge as people would not be using the car parks for shopping, just for attending church services.
‘The council agreed and the parking charges have now been scrapped on those days.’
Nigel Smith, treasurer at St Peter and St Paul’s church on the High Street, was one of the people who wrote to the council.
He said he was inspired to write after finding out that other councils did not charge for parking on certain days of the year.
He said: ‘I’m very pleased that it will be easier for people to attend churches on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.
‘Previously, people would have to pay to park in the car parks nearby. A lot of extra people come to church on those days and I’m sure that having to pay parking charges would certainly put people off.’
Anne Butcher, parish administrator at St Peter and St Paul’s church, said: ‘I am happy that the council has listened to Nigel’s request.
‘It will make a difference to everybody who attends as sometimes the parking charges can mount up.’
John Vivian, 65, who attends Sacred Heart Church on Portland Street, said: ‘The shops are not open on those days so I think it is a good idea.
‘My church would really benefit from not having to pay for parking, so we would be really supportive.
‘One thing I would say is why can’t we have free parking up to midday every Sunday?’
Parking charges will still apply in short stay car parks on Christmas Eve, Sundays and other bank holidays, although it is free to park in long-stay car parks on Sundays.