Free Christmas parking brought forward in Gwynedd

image captionFree parking is being started earlier this year

Free parking is being brought forward in Gwynedd to encourage people to use local businesses in the run-up to Christmas.

Gwynedd council said it was reacting to comments from previous years when some argued the free Christmas parking did not help local shops because it did not start soon enough in December.

It will now run from 13 - 28 December in all the county's car parks.

Pwllheli Chamber of Trade called it a "step in the right direction".

Ifor Hughes, chairman of Pwllheli Chamber of Trade, said moving the free parking forward was an idea suggested by the traders themselves.

"Previously free parking was over the Christmas period, not so much in the run-up," he said.

"That meant that many local people had already done their Christmas shopping," he added.

Mr Hughes said the initiative then benefited those who were visiting the area over the holidays, rather than targeting local residents.

"People like to do their shopping at least a fortnight in advance, so we definitely welcome this."

A council spokesman said: "In previous years, some traders had argued that the timing of the free Christmas parking did not help local shops because it did not start early enough.

"This year however the decision has been taken to start on 13 December to encourage people to shop locally," he added.

Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards said the county's shops and businesses were the backbone of the local economy.

"The council is committed to doing all it can to help in the current challenging financial climate," he said.

"We are confident that the free parking in the run-up to Christmas will again allow shoppers to spend more time in the county's town centres, and provide a welcome boost for local traders," he added.

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