FREE parking is set to be offered to Christmas shoppers in all 26 of Havant Borough Council’s pay and display car parks.
For the first time, the authority will waive charges in its car parks and give shoppers three hours of free parking on Saturday, December 7. People would normally have to pay £3 to stay for that long.
The free parking coincides with Small Business Saturday, which is taking place for the first time across the UK.
The day has been adopted from the US, where it is backed by President Barack Obama and boosted trade by £3.6bn for independent retailers last Christmas.
Marie Telford, owner of The Hayling Island Bookshop, wrote to all councillors in Havant borough to flag up the free parking idea.
Cllr David Collins, who oversees parking, has approved the scheme and it is set to be rubber-stamped at a full council meeting tomorrow.
Mrs Telford said: ‘This is great news and it would be fantastic if the shoppers across the whole of Havant borough show their support to their local retail businesses by shopping locally on Small Business Saturday. There are a terrific range of shops and services on offer from Leigh Park, Cowplain, Emsworth, Havant Town, Waterlooville and of course here on Hayling Island.’
The announcement comes as councillors will discuss tomorrow a petition from Emsworth. More than 2,700 people were angry at a price increase from 70p to £1 for one hour’s parking.
The council is carrying out a review of parking following a petition of more than 4,700 signatures from Hayling Island, where people were also angry about the price hike.
Cllr Collins said the council considered having a full day of free parking, but was worried the spaces might be filled by workers and commuters.
‘If you get three hours, that should be more than sufficient for anyone shopping locally,’ he said.
‘We thought we would show our sympathy for small businesses. We want to show we are fully conversant with the problems they have got and we will do everything in our power to help them.’
He said the council was set to lose several thousands of pounds in lost income. He added: ‘It’s not cheap. But if it keeps small businesses going, it’s money well-spent.’