Wide open spaces

Battle ground: Opposition Conservative councillors have claimed the under-used car park on Devonshire Road is 'scandalous'
Battle ground: Opposition Conservative councillors have claimed the under-used car park on Devonshire Road is 'scandalous'
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A row has broken out after town hall bosses spent nearly £200,000 on a staff car park which is currently being used by just a handful of drivers.

The car park, at the junction of Devonshire Road and Talbot Road, in Blackpool, also costs Blackpool Council £35,000 in annual rent.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Tory opposition on the council, said: “Not only is the cost obscene, but the car park is hardly being used, with less than 15 to 20 cars parking there most days.”

But Blackpool Council, which spent £190,000 transforming the former hospital site, said the costs were covered by the sale of parking permits to council staff.

It said the Devonshire Road car park was required to provide more capacity in the summer, when other car parks were set aside for tourists.

However, with less demand for spaces in winter, staff were choosing more centrally located car parks instead.

But Coun Williams said: “We now have more empty car parking spaces than any other town in Europe. If it wasn’t so serious it would be farcical.

“Spending that amount of money and agreeing such a high rent is scandalous when this council is announcing job losses and cuts to essential services.

“It’s clear evidence this council hasn’t got a clue and they are quite happy to fund their own indulgences.

“This patch of ground had stood empty for years, so how did it cost nearly £200,000 just to clear the site? It’s a waste of our money.”

But Coun John Jones, cabinet member for highways, said: “During the winter when our car parks are quieter, staff who have purchased a permit for Devonshire Road can park on Bank Street instead.

“This is why there are less cars parking on Devonshire now than during the holiday season.

“As well as being a facility for our own staff, and potentially other businesses in the area, the work has also significantly improved its appearance, and we no longer have to deal with complaints about fly tipping and anti-social behaviour.

“The money spent on the site and the ongoing rent is paid for by the income generated by the permits that are sold. We are currently speaking to other businesses in the area that also have an interest in purchasing spaces.

“There is no cost to the taxpayer for the creation of this new car park.”