VISITORS to Basingstoke town centre will be able to park for free for up to half an hour from April 14.

The new measures apply to all borough council-owned, short stay car parks between 8am and 6pm Monday to Saturday, and aim to benefit businesses in the Top of The Town in particular.

Car parks affected by the change are Albert Yard, Castons Yard, Feathers Yard, Jacobs Yard, Joices Yard and Central car parks.

Councillor Cathy Osselton, cabinet member for partnerships, who is responsible for parking and proposed the plans, said: “I’m really pleased to be able to introduce free car parking for half-an-hour in the town.

“I hope this will encourage people, who may have been put off by the cost of short- term parking in the past, to support their local shops and businesses.”

She added: “It’s now even easier to nip into the Top of The Town for a quick shopping trip.”

Pay-and-display tickets will still be required for over half-an-hour’s parking, and parking attendants will be monitoring vehicles.

Free parking remains unavailable in the town’s long-stay car parks, but the charge for up to 30 minutes will remain at 50p.

The charge for staying in the council’s town centre car parks for an hour has also been frozen at £1.

The council expects that the income from parking charges will fall to below inflation when the changes take effect.

People parking in the evenings and on Sundays will still have to pay the £1 flat charge.