Harrogate BID is launching two new initiatives aimed at bringing shoppers into Harrogate town centre this December.

And with the town coming out of lockdown on December 2, it is even more important than ever to encourage residents to “shop, eat and drink” locally.

The first is seeing it once again partnering with bus operator The Harrogate Bus Company to sponsor its “Sunday Freeway”, offering the chance to ride its Harrogate Electrics buses on services 2A, 2B, 3 and 6, which link Bilton, Dene Park, The Knox, Jennyfield and Pannal Ash with the town centre, free of charge.

In addition, it is also launching a “free after three” car parking initiative, where motorists arriving after 3pm will be able to park for free in the Victoria Car Park on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, between December 7 and 24.

Harrogate BID Acting Chairman Sara Ferguson said: “Because of the lockdown, traders in the town have already lost a month’s worth of business and are playing catchup.

“Whilst in lockdown, we launched the ‘Shop Harrogate Online’ campaign to encourage people to continue using local businesses who were still trading and offering services such as home deliveries and ‘click and collect’.

“Now we are coming out of the second lockdown, we are launching these two initiatives to bring people into town, via two different modes of transport.

“The Sunday Freeway was a huge success last year, and we are delighted again to be partnering with Transdev during December and into the New Year, to bring customers into town in an environmentally-friendly manner.”

The Harrogate Bus Company CEO Alex Hornby said: “We’re delighted that Harrogate BID are able to partner with us to support free travel on Sundays on our Harrogate Electrics buses for a second Christmas, and on into the New Year.

“It’s amazing news for our town – reducing emissions and congestion, while making it easier for everyone to support our local economy and get our town’s traders back on their feet.

“Harrogate’s businesses have had an incredibly tough year, with two lockdowns and continued restrictions impacting everyone. It’s now up to us all to support them as they re-open for the crucial run-up to Christmas by taking advantage of free travel on Harrogate Electrics buses to shop local on Sundays in our town centre.”

Sara added: “We are also teaming up with Harrogate Borough Council to offer free parking in the town’s Victoria Car Park for the first four days of the week for those arriving after 3pm.

“These are traditionally the quietest days of the week, and it’s hoped by doing this we can help drive customers into town in a safe and responsible manner. And by encouraging motorists to park off-street it will hopefully assist with social distancing measures too.

“Both of these initiatives come under our wider ‘Harrogate at Christmas’ campaign, which has seen us taking responsibility for the Christmas lights, sponsoring the Rotary Club of Harrogate’s Christmas Shop Window competition and partnering with Harrogate International Festivals’ to create the North Pole Post Office.

“We are also busy promoting the Harrogate Gift Card as the perfect Christmas gift for friends, family and employees.”