Car parks free at Christmas

Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council

Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council

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Car parks in Preston will be free over Christmas in a bid to bring shoppers flocking to the city centre.

Council leader Peter Rankin said the authority had agreed to make its Bus Station and Market Hall car parks free on late night shopping Wednesday and Thursday nights and Sundays in the run-up to the crucial trading period.

One of the city’s biggest shopping centres, the Fishergate Shopping Centre, has also promised free parking on late night Wednesday and Thursday nights from 5.30pm immediately.

Coun Rankin said the authority would kick-off by making its 1,100-space car park at the bus station free from 3pm this Saturday for the city’s festive lights switch-on.

It will then make the market hall and bus station will be free on late night shopping Wednesday and Thursday nights from 4pm starting on November 28.

The car parks will also be free every Sunday from December 2.

The leader said: “We want to support our high streets and get as many people into Preston to do their Christmas shopping as possible.

“It has not been an easy decision because we are £110,000 under target for the amount we had hoped to bring in from our car parks this year, but we have listened to what people have told us.

“I hope that everyone will take us up on the offer and make sure Preston’s Christmas goes with a bang.”

He added he hoped other private car park operators would follow the council’s lead.

Fishergate Centre manager Keith Mitchell said it was extending its offer of giving people two hours free parking to people spending over £40 in its stores.

He said: “We had planned to end that offer this week, but we want to extend some festive cheer.”

A spokesman for the St George’s Centre confirmed it is looking at its options.

Babs Murphy, of the Preston Business Improvement District (BID), said she was “delighted” with the council’s offer.

She said: “The council has listened to what shoppers and shops have been saying and we look forward to working with them to make this Christmas a massive success for Preston.

“Now it is up to businesses to pull out all the stops to do the same and the shopping public to support them.”

Last week, Lancashire County Council started opening its Arthur Street car park free every weekend until Christmas.