A PENALTY charge is being abolished from Fareham’s main town centre car parks in a bid to encourage shoppers to stay longer.
From tomorrow, Fareham Borough Council is removing the £25 fee from three of its short stay car parks.
The charge was issued to drivers who remained for more than five hours at the Market Quay, Fareham Shopping Centre and Osborn Road multi-storey car parks.
The aim was to put off commuters from parking in them all day.
But the council has now decided to scrap the charge ahead of Christmas.
Tory councillor Keith Evans, in charge of strategic planning and environment, said: ‘I’m really pleased we have been able to support local traders and businesses by removing this penalty charge, especially at a time when the town centre will be at its busiest with all the Christmas shoppers.
‘This will help to maintain and extend the prosperity of the town centre for both retailers and shoppers alike.’
The hourly rate for the Market Quay car park will remain at £1.50, while both the other car parks’ hourly rates will stay at £1.
The penalty charge was originally introduced in response to traders’ concerns that the most central car parks were being used by all-day parkers who were depriving shoppers of the most convenient spaces.
But following recent consultation with, and support from Fareham town centre traders, the council has chosen to remove the penalty charge.
Lib Dem ward councillor Paul Whittle said: ‘I do support this move – I think it’s a good move to relax the parking charges.
‘We need to make the town centre more accessible and we need to do what we can to encourage business, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.’
It comes after Fareham Borough Council was recently given £100,000 by the government from its High Street Innovation Fund.
The authority then agreed to top up the amount to £200,000 which will be spent on enticing more shoppers into the town.
Other plans include a new website promoting the whole town centre, improved signs, funding murals, a programme for minor shop front repairs and a scheme to promote new businesses.