Five days of free parking in town centre car parks has been announced by New Forest District Council (NFDC) to help residents shop local in the approach to Christmas.
Parking will be free in all NFDC town and village car parks on Saturday 5 December, this year’s Small Business Saturday.
Parking will also be free on Christmas shopping weekends Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December, and the last weekend before Christmas, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 December.
Cllr Edward Heron, portfolio holder for planning and infrastructure said; “By offering five days of free parking we’re encouraging our residents to shop local where possible this Small Business Saturday, and in the run up to Christmas.
Free Christmas parking days have proved popular over the past few years both with our residents, and local shops and business.
This year, where government restrictions on shopping allow, it’s even more important that you support small businesses and please shop local, safely, where you can.”
Free Christmas parking days are being provided as part of a wider range of parking incentives to boost the local economy, including freezing the costs of most parking charges in the district at the current rate for 2021.
NFDC parking charges have not been increased since 2018.
The cost of season tickets (parking clocks) and pay and display tariffs in most town and village car parks will remain the same*.
Parking charges at seafront car parks will be frozen at 2020 prices out of season, with small increases of £1 per tariff** applied during the spring and summer visitor season from 1 April to 30 September 2021.
Cllr Heron added “We’re continuing to support local businesses throughout 2021 by once again freezing most parking charges for another year at 2018 rates.
Our range of parking clocks continue to provide excellent value for those who use our car parks often.
Starting at just £25 for an annual short stay clock, you can use all our town and village car parks for less than 50p a week, helping to make our towns and villages even more welcoming to shoppers, workers and other visitors.”
Despite the freeze in income and an increase in running costs for the car parks, NFDC continues to invest in its car parks.
This year has seen council investment in new electric charging points, expected to be in use before Christmas, improvement projects at Fordingbridge and Brockenhurst and enhanced maintenance across Council managed car parks.
The spring and summer charges will remain competitive with other coastal car parks in the region and contribute towards the council’s increased running costs and ongoing improvement plans.
2021 Parking clocks are available to buy on the council’s website at https://www.newforest.gov.uk/article/1388/Pay-for-parking
* Officers recommended an increase in the price of the short and long stay clocks, by £5 and £20 respectively, to reflect a 13% increase in operating costs (from £1.832m in 2018 to £2.076m). The Portfolio Holder made the decision to hold the price at 2020 levels to reflect the fact that those who had a 2020 clock were unable to get their full value from it throughout the year due to the town and village car parks being made free by NFDC in April and May, and the beach car parks being closed for a short period of time as part of our response to Covid 19.
**For example, 2 hours increases from £2 to £3 and 4 hours increases from £4 to £5.