Free parking comes to Haslemere again this Christmas, as Waverley Borough Council plans a brief relaxation of charges to encourage shoppers to support their local businesses.

This year’s borough-wide concession is set for Saturday 3 December, which coincides with the national Small Business Saturday promotion. It is also the day before the Haslemere Christmas Market – giving retailers the opportunity to cash in on a potentially huge weekend footfall.

The free parking plan was confirmed by Richard Homewood, Waverley’s head of environmental services, when council representatives met leaders of the borough’s chambers of commerce last week.

Charging in all the Waverley-run car parks ­– including Haslemere’s High Street (Waitrose), Chestnut Avenue, Tanners Lane and Weydown Road locations – will be suspended from 10:00 fro the rest of the day on 3 December.

Charges will still apply between 08:00 and 10:00 – a move designed to discourage people from parking in Waverley and catching early trains to other retail destinations.

He also disclosed that the new pay-by-phone option is being used by 13% of car park customers across the borough and is proving more popular than the previous provider’s system. One of the benefits of the new system is the facility for users to top-up their payment remotely if they wish to extend their time in a car park.

And in a further parking development, Richard Homewood said with the imminent need to modify the borough’s parking payment machines to accommodate the new 12-sided £1 coin next year, it is hoped that the machines can simultaneously be adapted to offer card and contactless payments as well.