SHOPPERS looking to get ready for the festive season in Wigan have been given an early Christmas gift - free parking.
The council has decided its pay and display car parks will be free for bargain hunters hitting the shops for late opening on Thursday nights from 3pm and on Sundays.
The new arrangements will start when the Christmas lights are switched on, with multi-storey car parks in Wigan also remaining open until 9pm and other car parks remaining open throughout the night for those looking to stay in town and visit the pubs and restaurants.
Most car parks in Wigan and Leigh are included in to the offer, but the Civic Centre will not be part of the free parking scheme.
Wigan Council deputy leader Coun David Molyneux said: “I want to make visiting town easier and more attractive. Both Leigh and Wigan are offering great retail and leisure opportunities and so with more free parking, it’s definitely time to really go to town for Christmas.”
Shoppers in Wigan will have six late night Thursdays to pick up presents, starting tonight (Nov 15), while there will be five Thursdays for extra hours of Christmas shopping in Leigh, starting with the switch-on and fireworks display on November 22.
With the exception of Civic Centre, there will be free parking after 3pm on all surface pay and display car parks, The Galleries and Water Street multi storey car parks.
The council is also offering free parking all day on Sundays, at the Mona Street, Harrogate Street and Chapel Lane car parks.
All car parks in Leigh will be part of the free parking offer, although the new town hall car park will be shut on November 22 due to preparations for the switch-on event, and the Spinning Gate shopping centre will open for three late nights starting on Thursday, December 6, with an extra night to grab last-minute items on Friday, December 21.
The council also hopes to announce further free parking offers in the run-up to Christmas, which should be finalised in the next couple of weeks.