PARKING across County Durham will be free after 3pm throughout December in a bid to support local businesses in the run up to Christmas.

Durham County Council is bringing back its free after three offer for the month, which sees it waive all of its charges at car parks and for on-street parking.

Parking charges will also not apply after 10am on Saturday, December 2 to support “Small Business Saturday”, a campaign urging people to shop locally.

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Councillor Carl Marshall, the council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We know how important the run-up to Christmas is for our county’s shops – it is their busiest time.

“Equally we appreciate that the festive period is an expensive one for people with all the presents they have to buy.

“We hope our Free after 3 offer – in addition to the free parking on Small Business Saturday - will bring more people into the county - benefitting local stores – while also helping make Christmas a little more affordable for everyone.”

Drivers are advised that payment machines will not be switched off at times when charges are not in place and that money paid will not be refunded.

Details of all council car parks can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/parking