PARKING fees in Blackpool need to be reduced – or scrapped altogether – to help attract more visitors to the resort.
That was the message from tourism leaders who fear parking charges and restrictions are both putting off visitors, and also forcing them to leave the resort when they could stay and spend some money.
Pleasure Beach group company secretary and director David Cam told delegates at The Gazette’s free quarterly business networking event the parking charge situation was “perverse”.
He said: “Looking at car parking charges, I think it’s iniquitous that we spend money attracting people to the town, and when they park, those visitors give the council their first £7.
“And in return they get a ticket telling them what time they have to leave.
“It’s outrageous really.
“This is one of the things the Pleasure Beach campaigns for in the background all of the time.”
Mr Cam said the past year was one of the most exciting in Blackpool’s recent history thanks to the Nickelodeon Land development at the park, Merlin’s new attractions at the Tower, Sealife and Madam Tussauds, new rides at the council-owned Sandcastle water park, and the announcement of the central business district plans for the town centre.
He congratulated the council on its backing for those schemes, but wants to see parking charges tackled.
His sentiments have been echoed by Claire Smith, president of Stay Blackpool.
She added: “We’re pushing at the moment on car parking charges to help the nighttime economy. What we have at the moment is people – including Merlin – telling us that at 4.30pm people are going back to their cars and going home.
“That goes against everything VisitBlackpool and StayBlackpool want to see.
“We’d like free parking at night. It’s something which would help everybody.”
Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for streets and transport, said: “ We recently looked at our charges and have made changes to a number of tariffs to encourage people to stay longer. There is an ongoing review of all tariffs but we always have to bear in mind that the income generated from these charges pays for other essential services so it’s a very difficult balancing act.
“At the moment it is free to park on street in Blackpool after 6pm.”