Motorists are to be allowed to park for free in a multi-million pound car park which has been snubbed by drivers.
Town hall chiefs have agreed to suspend charges for Blackpool’s £6m Talbot Road multi-storey car park for the next three weekends in a bid to encourage people to use it.
From April 1, fees are also being cut after bosses admitted the facility was being under-used – as reported by The Gazette earlier this month.
Critics have said a shutter, designed to ensure the car park is secure, is deterring drivers because it looks shut.
Coun John Jones (pictured), Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “It is no secret the new car park has not been as well used as we would like.
“What we’ve tried to do is listen and understand people’s thoughts, what the barriers are to them using the car park and what we can do to make people understand that it is a quality facility, probably the best we have in the town.
“As a result we’ve come up with this offer which we hope will also give local businesses a lift prior to the season beginning. I hope people will make use of it, support their local shops and let us know what they think of the car park.”
Retailers have today welcomed news of the move.
Andrew Clayton, of Clayton’s Jewellers on Cookson Street, said: “I’m sure people will use it if it is free so this is a step in the right direction.
“But I still think overall, parking is too expensive in Blackpool.”
Eileen Ormand, Blackpool’s Town Centre and BID manager said: “I urge people to take advantage of this free car parking offer and support your town centre.”
A survey by Gazette reader John Garnham earlier this month found just three cars using the car park on a Friday afternon.
From April 1 charges will be cut with four hours parking costing £4.50 instead of the current £6.50. Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard also welcomed the move. He said: “The Talbot Road car park has long been empty with a crazy entry system and an expensive charging structure.“