Free two-hour parking in Bognor Regis has moved a step closer.
Town councillors agreed on Monday to officially back the scheme for the Fitzleet multi-storey car park and the Lyon Street car park.
The endorsement was made in private at a special meeting before Monday’s regular meeting of the town council.
The initiative is a joint scheme between the town council and Arun District Council.
It now requires Arun’s formal backing at its cabinet meeting next Monday to get the final go-ahead to start on December 1.
Both councils will share the £72,000 costs. Bognor’s traders will also make contributions through the town council.
A town council spokesman said: “Bognor will soon be able to offer a new opportunity which we believe is a step forward to bringing people into the town.”
Cllr Roger Nash told the council’s regular meeting: “To bring in free parking is a very important way forward for the town. We have done something which is very progressive.
“It’s the beginning of a process and something which will get better. It will bring great benefit to the town in the long term.”
Cllr Paul Wells said he was delighted progress had been made on a scheme which would benefit the town.
He thanked the different organisations which had taken part in the detailed discussions to bring in free parking.
They were the town’s chamber of commerce, the TBI Bognor business group, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Civic Society.
Cllr Gillian Brown, the district council’s leader, said: “I think this agreement between the traders, the district council and the town council builds on our shared aspirations to provide a scheme for Bognor along similar linies to the successful scheme which has been running in Littlehampton for several years.
“I believe this is very good news for Bognor and that it will bring more shoppers into the town centre and improve the footfall for all businesses, which is what we want to achieve.
“I look forward to the scheme being up and running before Christmas.”
If approved, 343 spaces would be available for free parking in Fitzleet and 61 spaces in Lyon Street.
The current charges are 30p for two hours in Fitzleet and £2.10 for the same time in Lyon Street.
The free parking will be for a year’s trial.
Better signage, improving the car parking environment and launching a marketing campaign are also being jointly considered by the councils.
The campaign for free parking began last September when the town’s civic society launched a petition.
This was signed by 5,807 people and was formally presented to Arun two months ago.
The society originally wanted the cost of the scheme to come from a payment by Sainsbury’s to the town centre and from the money paid by Butlin’s for a new lease.