ST HELENS town centre car parks will be free to use in the four Saturdays leading up to Christmas, it has been announced today.

St Helens Council revealed its town centre car parks will not charge on November 28 and December 5, 12 and 19.

There will be no fee for using Chalon Way, Tontine, St Mary’s, Hardshaw and Birchley Street car parks as the council seeks to attract more shoppers to St Helens amid the recession.

However, there will still be charges for street parking.

The move is part of the council’s Be Local Buy Local Campaign – backed by the Star - which aims to shield St Helens from the effects of the recession.

The campaign is encouraging people to support local businesses to help local shops, businesses and services, help retain jobs.

Since the high-profile launch around 150 local shops and businesses have signed up to the campaign.

In a statement, Council Leader Brian Spencer, said: “Free car parking and a wide range of Christmas events are designed to show people that St Helens town centre has a lot to offer both for local people and to shoppers across the region.

“With easy transport routes plus free parking and cheaper than most car parks at other times it really does give the town that added attraction to shoppers and visitors.”

Meanwhile, there are also plans for a high-profile celebrity launch of the Go Penguins celebration.

This will see St Helens town centre become home to four pairs of decorated penguins during Christmas from creators of the Superlambananas, which gave a massive retail boost to Liverpool.

Adding extra sparkle to bring in the shoppers and visitors to the town centre are also a wide range of Christmas events including the annual lights switch on, November 14; Festive rides, Santa Express, Christmas Crafts, December 4 and 5; nativity and lantern procession on December 17; roller skating novelty characters and a peek at the past with a Victorian St Helens on December 12 and 13.