IT WILL be free to park in the town centre after 3pm through the Christmas months in a bid to keep footfall during regeneration.

Councillors voted to pass a proposal to allow car parking to be subsidised - at a cost of almost £50,000 - to help benefit local businesses. 

The proposal was put forward due to the town centre regeneration works currently underway.

The car parking figures show that there was an 18 pwe cent increase in people using car parks in the town centre in the month of August, but that dropped by 10 per cent in September. 

Cllr Chris Bowring explained that despite having free parking after 3pm throughout the week, there were no plans to increase these times on Sundays. 

Cllr Bowring said: “The Wokingham town centre regeneration project is a £3.8 million investment, that is part of a long term project. 

“This is to bring income into the Borough as a whole.

“This is a fair and reasonable process, and there are no plans to increase free parking times.”

The period of free parking will run from November 2017 to the February 1 2018, from 3pm to 8am.

It was revealed at the council meeting that the estimated loss from this free parking period will be an estimated £48,000.

This is then added onto the cost of changing the signage at the seven car parks where the free parking will apply, which is £1,000. 

Council documents stated: “Wokingham town centre is undergoing an ambitious and unprecedented transformation.

“To respond and support local businesses through this busy seasonal trading period, it is proposed to suspend car parking charges from 3pm to 8am in town centre car parks from November 2017 to the end of January 2018. 

“By making the car parks free during the proposed time periods there will be a loss of income to the council circa £48,000.”