SHOPPERS in Redcar have been granted free car parking in the run up to Christmas.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has announced details of its annual pre-Christmas car parking concession for shoppers.

Last year, parking was free after 3pm for four weeks, but this year the scheme has been extended and parking will be free after 2pm for six weeks.

Coun Sylvia Szintai, the council's lead member for the Environment and Infrastructure, said: "We want to encourage as many shoppers as possible to come to the town. The concession was popular last year and we hope that the extra hour will ensure even more people arrive."

Redcar Business Association chairman Pat Denney said: "This extra Christmas concession will help our customers and Redcar traders at this vital time of the year."

The concessions came into force in Redcar on Monday. The scheme is also to be extended to Guisborough.

Ashok Kumar, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, which includes Guisborough, said the aim was to attract people to do their Christmas shopping locally.

"One of the joys of shopping in Guisborough is that many of the shops are locally-owned, and this news means better takings for local tradespeople," he said.