WEYMOUTH could have free bus rides next Christmas – instead of free car parking days.

The idea is being put forward by Green councillors on the town council.

They say the idea of free parking encourages extra use of fossil fuels, contrary to council policy, and benefits only those rich enough to afford cars.

Instead, they claim, making better use of the buses would cut down on fossil fuel use, dangerous polluting emissions and benefit all, no matter what their income.

But the idea will first have to win councillors approval and even then will need to be costed and worked out if the bus companies could cope with the likely increase in passengers.

The motion, from Cllr Graham Lambert and seconded by Cllr Jon Orrell, will be discussed at the town council meeting on Wednesday evening (19th).

Cllr Lambert says that in December last year the Weymouth Town Council website advertised 9 days of free car parking while on the same webpage under ‘Responding to the Climate Emergency’ the council is quoted saying that it will ‘make decisions that discourage fossil fuel car use, withdraw all forms of subsidy to such usage’.

Said Cllr Lambert: “This represents an incongruence in our policies, as free parking encourages fossil fuel usage."

His motion for Wednesday's debate says: “It is proposed that rather than only offer financial encouragement to the generally more well off in society (car owners), support should be given to non-car owners (and to encourage car owners to use the bus) by offering free bus days in December if possible.

“This proposal requires a feasibility report to be drawn up by officers following negotiation with relevant Dorset Council Officers. This will enable councillors to have environmentally friendly options when deciding on how to use the free parking days option, if they are available in coming years.”

He said that the previous borough council has been reported as making around £5,500 a day from car parking – but even if only half of this comes in during December it would produce £18,000 which Dorset Council forgoes in order to offer free parking.

He calculates that if the figures are correct the same amount could fund 45 free bus days (9am to 5pm).

Councillors are being asked to discuss the idea and, if approved, work with Dorset Council on a feasibility report on offering free bus days instead of free parking in the pre-Christmas period later this year.