Free parking axe ‘would hit traders’

Thornton Sports Centre.
Thornton Sports Centre.
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Free car parks in Wyre could be scrapped and charges introduced if council bosses give plans to go-ahead.

Wyre Council’s cabinet is proposing to conduct a review into the feasibility of applying charges in their free car parks as part of a new strategy.

If the plans are approved, community leaders would also look to freeze current charges where they are already in place, retain three hours free parking for blue badge holders and keep the policy of allowing tickets to remain valid until 8am if they are bought by 6pm the previous day. The strategy would be in place until 2019, and will see councillors examine the number and size of existing car parks, and identify opportunities to make better use of them.

At the moment, car parking is free for Wyre residents for two hours in designated car parks.

Coun Roger Berry, neighbourhood services portfolio holder for Wyre Council, said: “The review would give councillors the opportunity to look at all our car parks and take a view on if they are going to be retained as free or introduce charges.

“We are not taking a particular view on the subject, we are just considering this.

“We have got some good parking facilities and it encourages people to park close to our shops and use all the facilities in our town centre, not only for shopping, but for restaurants and pubs in the area.”

Among the car parks in Wyre which are currently free are those at Poulton Leisure Centre, Thornton Leisure Centre and Central Car Park, Fleetwood.

But businesses have raised concerns about the idea.

Martin Hunns, of Cleveleys Chamber of Trade, said: “Instead of inviting people to come here and spend money they are frightening people off. This will make things even worse and it’s another nail in the coffin for businesses.”

Pete Ryan, chairman of Thornton Action Group, said: “Anything which is a new charge on the Thornton population has to be regretted, but we do understand the local council has got to find a lot of money. We are interested to see what their recommendations and intentions are.”

However, Suzy Rowe, co-owner of vintage clothes shop Holloways of Poulton, backed the proposed freeze on prices where charges are already in place.

She said: “We support it and if it does stay like this for the next five years it would be great. More people will come here if charges stay low.”

The cabinet will meet at Wyre Civic Centre, Breck Road, Poulton, from 6pm on Wednesday.