By Dr Lesley Hoy, of Poulton
WHEN my wife and I moved here in 1982, Poulton village was, in the terminology of today, a ‘destination’. We would visit the village to browse and shop. No more.
Gone are so many of the small shops, the independent shops, the specialist shops. Instead we have charity shops, plenty of places to eat, drink, get your hair cut/styled, or buy a house; no longer is it a place to browse. Clearly, Poulton needs help; whether Dransfield Properties plan (pictured with property director Andrew Malley) provide it is a moot point.
A cynic might conjecture that the “landmark community building” is merely a quick way of housing the existing tenants of the Market Hall, while their existing site is redeveloped to enable a new supermarket (Asda) to move in. which is, I guess, the profit driver. The concept of moving the existing library to the upper floor of this building should be rejected out of hand. It’s bonkers.
I have heard that the car park will no longer have any parking charges applied; if this is so, it is a retrograde step. There is a widely held belief that the introduction of car parking charges, some years ago, reduced the footfall in the village. I have never seen a shred of evidence to support this.
Prior to car parking charges, the car park filled up with commuters to Preston, who caught an early train and left the car park so full it was often impossible for shoppers to park.
Bringing in a minimum 50p charge (and tiered charges thereafter) emptied the car park like magic, and was the best thing the local authority ever did with regard to parking.
However, Wyre Council seems to regard the car park as a revenue generator, whereas they should, of course, regard it as a tool to bring in shoppers.
As that tool, charges need to be managed correctly; low charges for the first two (three?) hours, then draconian charges for four hours or more (£10?).
Most people don’t mind modest charges for a short visit, and the message this sort of policy would send is clear. Treat it as a revenue stream by putting up prices on a regular basis (as has been done) and you will drive the customers away (50p has morphed into £1.40; I wonder if most people’s salaries have gone up by a factor of three in the same period?).
As an addendum, the charge for changing your ‘free’ residents parking permit went from zero to £25 to £10. Why? Zero is good.
A final question: why is Bispham village thriving whilst Poulton is dying on its feet?