BUSINESS leaders in Huntingdonshire are putting pressure on the district council to take action to attract Christmas shoppers to the town's High Streets, rather than city shopping malls. And they want HDC to look at making permanent free parking arrangements in the New Year. Huntingdonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) say they hope the district council realises that the clock is ticking if it wants to boost retail trade in market towns in the run-up to Christmas. The move follows HDC's "very helpful announcement that it is considering a range of options to help retailers and boost the local economy by encouraging shoppers to stay local instead of travelling to larger towns and cities," the two business organisations said today (Friday). John Bridge, chief executive of Huntingdonshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "Although we welcomed the recent announcement, we very much hope that the council understands the urgency and will not just continue to talk about how it is considering this 'range of options', as there are only so many shopping days left until Christmas. "What we don't want to see is local retailers missing out because the council hasn't made a decision quickly enough. Peterborough and Cambridge are already proactively promoting their shopping centres, Christmas events and parking initiatives," he added. "Free parking on Saturday would go a long way towards attracting shoppers. The chamber would actively support such a campaign for Huntingdonshire's market towns, but we must act fast in order for it to be successful." Malcolm Lyons, chairman of the Huntingdonshire Branch of the FSB added: "We also welcome the council initiative and very much hope this will turn out to be a reality, and that the council will continue free Saturday parking into the New Year to attract shoppers during the sale period. "We also hope, with the chamber, that in the future the council will review its longer term policy and consider introducing free parking permanently.