"FREE After 3" car parking is to be re-introduced across Wirral throughout December.

The move was agreed at a meeting of the council's cabinet last night and is aimed at boosting trade in the run-up to Christmas.

As well as parking being ‘"Free After 3" drivers will be able to park for no charge all day at any council-operated car parks on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Councillor Stuart Whittingham, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Christmas is a very important time for shoppers and for local businesses.

"As part of our commitment to supporting businesses and helping them to thrive, we are cutting the cost of parking in council car parks and offering ‘Free After 3’ parking from December 1 and making parking on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day free all day.

“Increasing footfall in our town centres is a key aspect of our work to support traders and to make it easier and more affordable for people to access local goods and services.

"Shoppers will be able to use their local shops and town centres for their festive shopping knowing they won’t have to pay extra for parking their car after 3pm."

Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber of Commerce, said: "We welcome this news as it will certainly encourage Wirral residents and visitors to the borough to use our retail centres, which can only be seen as a very positive move and one which will benefit our businesses and Wirral's economy."

The initiative applies to council-operated car parks only - motorists will still have to pay for on-street parking in Birkenhead.

The popular "Free After 3" measure was launched by the former Tory/Lib-Dem council coalition in 2011.

It was scrapped in 2013 under a scheme to "harmonise" parking charges across the borough.