CHRISTMAS shoppers will have to pay for their parking in Shaftesbury this year or squeeze into the town's free car parks.
Shaftesbury town councillors voted against paying North Dorset District Council to cover lost income from its paid-for car parks at Bell Street and Angel Lane in the run up to Christmas.
Their decision followed an estimate from the district council that each day of free parking offered in Shaftesbury would mean £446 of lost income.
The district council also asked Shaftesbury Town Council to contribute £250 towards the cost of advertising free parking days across the district.
But Mayor of Shaftesbury Simon Pritchard said town councillors were unhappy about the increased cost proposed for this year's scheme and that it would not help with shoppers' parking.
He said: "It isn't even a very effective scheme as last year the car parks soon fill up with cars that are parked there all day by people for work and shoppers still can't find a space.
"The district council is asking for more money this year and if the town council pays it is like an extra taxation for Shaftesbury people."
He said there were problems last year about notices informing motorists that they could park for free on certain days – and many unwittingly put money in the machines to buy a parking ticket.
The town council has already negotiated with the district to provide parking free at point of use in Barton Hill. And it has independently organised more free parking at the cattle market.
Former Shaftesbury Chamber of Commerce chairman Charlie Turnbull of Turnbull's cheesemonger, cafe and bistro, agreed with the town council decision.
He said: "The important thing is that people want to come to Shaftesbury because it's good when they get here, whether it's for an event like the Christmas fair or for Christmas shopping.
"As a retailer I think the district council is asking a lot of money for something that has no demonstrable value.
"I can see why the town council balked at it.
"I know North Dorset District Council doesn't have the money and wants the income from car parking but I can understand that the town council doesn't want to pay for it."
SHAFTESBURY Town Council is inviting people's views on the decision through its email@example.com email address.