A PARKING price hike in a troubled town centre has been blasted by local traders.
A card shop owner has labelled the increase to a minimum of £1.50 for two hours’ parking at the Teanlowe Centre in Poulton “criminal” as traders are already struggling to cope with the closure of the railway bridge on Tithebarn Street.
But Wyre Council, which owns the pay and display car park, says the extra 10p cost is in line with a five-year price increase plan, which ends this year.
Tony Wade, owner of Occasions inside the centre, said he thought the price increase was actually 30p, representing a 25 per cent increase from £1.20.
He added: “To do this on top of the bridge closure is absolutely unbelievable.
“They knew the bridge was going to be closed for five months. To have done this now is criminal.
“It’s like the council is trying to shut Poulton down.”
Traders say the first they heard of the new rates was when customers complained.
Brenda Mellor, who owns Homecare Walkabout with her husband Ray, said she was surprised to hear of the new charges.
She added: “It’s a silly time to do it when Poulton is in a bit of a mess. I would have thought they could at least have left it until the bridge was finished.”
Audrey Stephenson from Something Special agreed the timing wasn’t right for new parking charges.
She said: “This isn’t going to encourage people to come in, or even have a look around. It’s really bad.”
Coun Roger Berry, Wyre cabinet member for parking, said: “We do sympathise with traders and the council will help where it can.
“If we reduced or removed car parking charges, then this would result in a loss of revenue and we would have to find savings elsewhere, which could affect other services which we are already committed to.”