SHOPS across the New Forest have been given a festive-parking boost ahead of the peak Christmas period.

Plans have been announced to suspend car parking charges in New Forest District Council car parks in the four days leading up to December 25.

It is hoped the move, which was signed off by Cllr Edward Heron, portfolio holder for planning and infrastructure, will support small businesses and the local economy across the district.

The council has also revealed it will not increase parking charges in 2019.

A report providing information on the proposal says: "For the last five years the council has supported the national initiative "Small Business Saturday” by providing free parking. Small Business

Saturday is a national initiative to encourage people to use and support local independent shops and business.

"This year, Small Business Saturday is being held on 1 December 2018.

"In each of the last eight years, town and parish councils have been given the option to nominate a day when car parking charges are suspended to support specific local events in the run-up to Christmas.

"The council wishes to continue with this support to help promote the Christmas activities for our towns and villages."