Extra free parking to come into force

Orchard Road in St Annes
Orchard Road in St Annes
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The long-awaited extended time limits for on-street parking in St Annes town centre are set to come into effect this weekend.

Workmen from highways authority Lancashire County Council (LCC) were due in town yesterday to alter the signage in streets around St Annes Square, extending the maximum wait to 90 minutes from the current 60 for an experimental 18-month period.

Albert Sumner

Albert Sumner

It is a change which has already been greeted as ‘the best Christmas present we could have wished for’ by the town’s Chamber of Trade, which has been campaigning for more than 10 years for the hour limits to be doubled to give drivers time to browse and shop.

Chamber officials were shocked when a parking consultation, carried out at a cost of £50,000, initially suggested the limits should stay as they were.

But after a further concerted plea direct to LCC highways boss Coun John Fillis, the experimental extension to 90 minutes was announced last May.

At the time the promise of an experimental extension was made, Coun Fillis said in a letter to the Chamber: “Within experimental orders, there is provision to allow alteration of the order within the first six months to take into account any operational difficulties subsequently encountered.

This is a very welcome first step - Arnold Sumner

“If at the end of the 18-month period the trial is found to be unsuccessful then a permanent order will not be made and previous existing restrictions will come back into force.”

As well as the final two weekends of the build-up to this Christmas, it will also cover the next festive season as well as the summer.

The start of the experiment also coincides with two more weekends of the free parking offiered by Fylde Council on its on-street car parks.

Chamber of Trade co-ordinbator Arnold Sumner said: “It will be good to see the signage changed and the new limits come into effect - the ideal boost for the rest of festive season and for the coming months.

“Of course, it would be good if it the limit could be hopefully extended to two hours eventually – but this a very welcome first step.”

County Coun Fabian Craig-Wilson, who represents St Annes South, said: “St Annes traders have waited a long time for these new limits, so I am very grateful that the scheme is finally coming to fruition.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “The 90-minute limited waiting parking orders will come into effect on Saturday, December 12.

“There are more than 50 sign plates which need to be changed and we’ll be doing that from Thursday onwards.”