A car park in Stanford-le-Hope which controversially introduced parking charges will now be free for the first two hours over Christmas and New Years.

Following a negotiation between Thurrock Council and the owners of King Street Car Park, they came to an agreement that visitors could benefit from two hours free parking from December 9 until January 9

Thurrock Council has negotiated this deal by agreeing to block book 32 spaces and offer them to visitors for free for two hours.

The agreement follows calls for the owners to re-introduce free parking after a petition with almost 2,000 signatures was submitted to the council in July and debated in October.

The petition, which was submitted by Councillor Terry Piccolo, asked for the council to do everything in its power to get two hours of free parking at this site.

The car park was free to use until the land was sold by Thurrock Council in 2013.

Councillor Brian Little, responsible for transport, said: “I am very pleased we have been able to get this measure in place for residents and those visiting the area in time for Christmas.

“It is right that we support our local businesses by giving shoppers the ability to pop in without having to pay for parking – especially at this festive and busy time of year.

“There is still work to be done to reach a permanent solution but this important step will provide much needed and immediate support to residents and businesses. The council has listened to the concerns of local people in Stanford Le Hope.  We will keep the arrangement under review and look to extend it if appropriate.”