WEYMOUTH and Dorchester have adopted different approaches to this year’s free Christmas parking.

Dorchester says the idea results in the car parks full of office workers who would normally park in the streets – leaving less space than normal for shoppers. Town councillors say they would rather have the subsidy, around £3,000, to be put towards Christmas lights.

In Weymouth the town council has taken the opposite view and want free parking on both weekend days from December 7th throughout the rest of December with additional free parking on Thursday 26th .

Both requests need to be approved by Dorset Council which owns the car parks.

Dorchester councillors say if their plea for money towards Christmas lights is not agreed they would like free parking on Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas and on Christmas Eve.

The requests have also highlighted that in council-owned car parks in Weymouth visitors have to pay for parking on Sundays, while in Dorchester it is free.

Weymouth Green councillor Cllr Graham Lambert opposed the idea when it was discussed at Weymouth town council’s services committee on Tuesday evening. He said it would be far better to put the money to promote bus use which would be more in line with the town and unitary council’s adopted ‘climate emergency’ motions.

“Why should we subsidise people, through the ratepayers, to bring more dirty cars into our town..let’s make sure the park and ride is better used instead,” he said, suggesting the subsidy be switched to encourage bus travel in the Christmas period.

But the idea failed to gain support after Cllr Christine James pointed out that many areas no longer had a bus service and there were virtually no buses anywhere on Sundays. Cllr David Harris said the idea was worth considering for the future, but it was now too late for this year for the bus company to operate the scheme, even if it was agreed.