FREE parking will be offered for a day celebrate small businesses.

Braintree Council will be offering free parking between 7am and 7pm in its town centre car parks.

It is to mark this year’s Small Business Saturday, being held on Saturday, December 3.

The council is supporting the national initiative, which highlights small business success and encourages residents to shop locally.

Tom Cunningham, councillor responsible for Economic Development, said: “Our small businesses are the heart of our local economy providing jobs and services to our residents and visitors.

"The more they succeed, the more jobs they provide for our residents.

“Free parking isn’t something we can consider every day because we have to balance providing affordable parking with generating the income needed to maintain safe and effective car parks.

"Throughout the rest of the year we’ve struck a good balance by offering our 10p after 3pm scheme which encourages shoppers into the towns at a time when retailers have told us trade is less busy.

"We are looking forward to regenerating our town centres and working with the Town Team to deliver the environment that will help to attract retailers.”

The offer will apply to council-run car parks, which are the Newland Drive and Mill Lane car parks in Witham, and the George Yard Multi-storey, Causeway House, Manor Street and Victoria Street car parks in Braintree.

Rachel McMillan runs Cool Beans in Bank Street, Braintree, with her husband Ross.

She said as an independent business they felt it was a great idea, and thanked the council for their support.

She said: "It's great- of course I think it will help, we have said about it before.

"Free parking is one of the reasons people would use Freeport over the town.

"Maybe the little man does get heard sometimes."