The final seal of approval has been given to a long- awaited free car parking trial in Bognor Regis.
The disc scheme, which will introduce two-hour free parking in the town from December 1, was unanimously backed by members of Arun District Council’s cabinet.
The endorsement on Monday night came exactly one week after the scheme received complete support from Bognor Regis town councillors.
Arun’s leader Gillian Brown called the scheme exciting and a positive step in the town’s regeneration.
She said: “This is excellent news and a true example of how partnership working can benefit the community.
“I am delighted to have been in a position to offer this pilot to the council’s cabinet to agree.
“We are committed to doing all we can to help our town centres and our local businesses through these difficult times. I am sure this move will be welcomed by businesses, visitors and shoppers who will all benefit from free parking in the town centre.
“It’s down to everyone to spread the word about this scheme and encourage as many people as possible to exploit the chance of parking for free to do their shopping in Bognor Regis town centre.”
Arun’s cabinet member for the environment Paul Dendle added: “I fully support the agreement which has been reached and think it is good the town council has gone the extra mile to make the agreement, and we have done our bit by agreeing to give a goodwill gesture of £7,000.”
From December, residents and visitors to the town will have the opportunity to park for free for up to two hours in 343 spaces in Fitzleet multi-storey car park off Queensway and the 61 spaces in Lyon Street ground-surface car park for an initial year.
The pilot marks a partnership between the district and town councils, with the authorities equally sharing the £72,000 cost. Contributions are also being made by the town’s traders.
The chairman of the Bognor Regis Town Council task and finish group, Paul Wells, said: “It is very good news this scheme is now officially approved and there is genuine excitement about launching it. We hope people will support this initiative and shop in Bognor Regis town centre. Free car parking and an exciting programme of Christmas events highlights Bognor Regis town centre has a lot to offer both local residents and shoppers from across the district and beyond.
“With easy transport routes plus free parking, it really does give the town that added attraction to shoppers and visitors.”
West Sussex County Council has been asked by both councils to improve the signage in the town so people know where they can park for free.
Norman Dingemans, Arun’s cabinet member for economic and cultural development said: “Changing the signs is the responsibility of West Sussex County Council and we are going to need to push them to make sure it is done to meet the December 1 deadline.”
Bognor Regis Town Council will start work on producing and distributing between 60,000 and 100,000 discs which residents and visitors will need to take advantage of the scheme.
Kevin Basford said Arun would have to apply to change a traffic order, which would mean a public consultation period of four weeks.
“During this time any problems which may arise will be addressed,” he added.