FREE parking in council-owned car parks across the town is set to be extended for another fortnight, the leader of the borough council has revealed.

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) suspended charges in all of its car parks on March 25, when the Prime Minister’s announced the beginning of lockdown.

That arrangement was expected to be amended as of next month, when some shops were set to reopen as part of a phased easing of lockdown restrictions.

However, it was announced on Monday that non-essential retailers will now not be able to open until June 15 – two weeks later than first planned.

And TVBC has responded by agreeing to extend its free parking scheme for an extra two weeks accordingly.

A message shared by Councillor Phil North on Facebook read: “Last week I told you that we were planning to introduce a further period of free parking to help businesses and their customers after the High Street reopened, which was previously scheduled for the June 1.

“In light of the government’s announcement last night confirming that non-essential retailers won’t be able to open until the June 15, I will be moving an amendment at Cabinet this Friday to extend free parking in Test Valley Borough Council car parks for a further fortnight, meaning normal charges will only apply from Wednesday, July 22.”

The changes are subject to approval from Cabinet, with a meeting set to take place on Friday.

If agreed, it means that parking will remain free all day and including Sunday, June 21, rather than Sunday, June 7, as initially planned.

Then from Monday, June 21, all TVBC-owned car parks will be free for the first two hours, with normal charges applying thereafter. This arrangement will remain in pace for a further month until July 21.

If lockdown restrictions continued to be eased as expected, normal parking charges will return on Wednesday, July 22.

This will be at the lower rate that was to be introduced from April 1 – £1 for the first two hours, with free parking available for up to two hours in Shepherds Spring Lane car park.

Car parking will remain free after 4pm, on Sundays and Bank Holidays.