Rise in parking charges hitting town centre trade claim Blackpool shop owners

Traders have blamed changes including what has been branded 'the world's longest bus stop' for driving customers away from their shops in Blackpool town centre.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Friday, 27th May 2022, 3:00 pm

Independent shop owners on Topping Street say while the council has made some investments, other initiatives are now starving the area of trade.

These include a bus lay-by which they say could be shortened and replaced by short stay parking, an increase in parking charges and loss of parking at East Topping Street car park to make way for a new office development.

Shop units have had investment through the council's property improvement fund, but independent traders say more still needs to be done to support the area.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Neil Twiss, Ben Jarman, Hilary Sinclair and Natasha Gilmore

Neil Twiss, who sells rock music merchandise at his store Renegade, said: "It's footfall that's the problem - yesterday I had just two customers in all day.

"Rising parking charges and the loss of spaces are just another nail in the coffin for Topping Street unless something is done.

"We also have what people are describing as the 'world's longest bus stop' across the road. You only ever see one bus stopping at a time, it's a joke.

"You could get rid of about three quarters of it and put in some short stay parking instead.”

Topping Street

"Topping Street used to be buzzing, but we're just hoping it picks up when the season starts."

Hilary Sinclair, of Home Comforts, said: "We need something to help us, even if it's just some extra signage towards the shops here.

"During the Conservative Party conference, there were bollards and armed police in St John's Square so people were put off getting to us.

"When the council put up Christmas lights, they were only along half of Topping Street and then they stopped working due to an electrical fault.”

Neil Twiss by the bus stop which he says should be shortened

"If the street is dark there's no point opening for late night shopping as people don't know we are here."

Tasha Gilmore, of The Sofa Outlet, added: "We're still recovering from the impact of the Covid epidemic, so we just need a bit of help."

The council increased its parking charges from April this year for the first time in five years in a move which will raise an extra £900,000 in revenue.

Shorter stays of up to four hours in car parks have gone up by 50p, while on-street charges in the town centre have increased to £1.50 for an hour, compared to £1.20, and to £3 for 90 minutes, up from £2.50.

A council spokesperson said: “Parking charges have increased for the first time in five years, and during that time, significant investment had been made in improving car parking infrastructure including the introduction of cashless payment systems.

“Despite the increase, Blackpool’s council car parks remain among the cheapest in the country compared to other seaside and city destinations.

“While there has been some loss of spaces on East Topping Street, more spaces have been opened up at the nearby Talbot Road multi-storey.

“Plans are being actively explored to create additional parking as key regeneration projects such as the planned new civil service hub bring a very significant amount of new footfall into the town centre.

“The bus layby on Topping Street has been designed to accommodate two bus shelters on Topping Street with two different bus services using the same area.

“There is a minimum size for a bus stop in order for a bus to be able to manoeuvre safely and there is two stops actively in use at all times.”