A 10-month -long, £50,000 report into parking across south Fylde has been slammed as ‘unworkable’.
Concessions for business users on seafront sites in Lytham and St Annes are among proposals being put forward to ease parking congestion on Fylde’s town centre streets.
Improved signing to off-street spaces and partial refunds of off-street parking fees in St Annes shops are other recommendations following the major survey of parking.
But traders and residents have criticised the survey – commissioned at a cost of more than £50,000 by Lancashire County Council – which controls on-street parking – as not going far enough to alleviate ongoing problems.
St Annes town mayor Coun Ed Nash has long been campaigning for a residents’ parking scheme in town centre streets which currently have unrestricted parking.
He labelled the survey “a cosmetic exercise”, while St Annes Chamber of Trade has vowed to fight on in its long-standing bid to have shopping area parking limits extended from one hour to two.
It might work if people are spending large amounts but not for smaller transactions
The Chamber collected more than 3,000 signatures from business owners and shoppers on a petition which it presented to Fylde Council – responsible for off-street parking – and Lancashire County Council calling for the change.
But the survey has suggested keeping the status quo to encourage optimum turnover of vehicles and maintain the vitality of the town centres.
The county council, however, has pledged to open up discussions with Fylde Council to encourage concessionary business use of car parks on St Annes promenade in a bid to encourage town centre workers away from residential streets as well as planning to talk with the Chamber of Trade over a refund scheme in shops.
Arnold Sumner, co-ordinator of St Annes Chamber of Trade, said the Chamber would be happy to sit down with county council representatives to talk about the refunding idea.
But he added that initial thought that such a scheme would be difficult to implement.
“It might work if people are spending large amounts but not for smaller transactions,” he said.
“We have been long been pressing for two-hour spaces in the centre to allow drivers time to browse the shops in comfort rather than having to rush back to their vehicles and we are very disappointed that the county council survey has dismissed our concerns.”
Coun Nash added: “There are some welcome aspects, such as designated drop-off points for coaches, but as far as I am concerned, these findings are not the end, they are just the beginning.”
The county council says the survey was commissioned to find the best way to address competing demands of residents, visitors and businesses while maintaining road safety and minimising congestion.
Carried out over 10 months by environmental specialists Jacobs, it included carrying out a number of consultation workshops to understand the concerns of local residents, councillors and businesses as well as a detailed analysis of parking patterns.
County Coun John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “It’s vital to manage parking in busy central areas to ensure people can visit the shops, get to work, and park near their homes.
“This helps to support the local economy, improve road safety, and ensure residents are not unreasonably inconvenienced.
“This review has been a very thorough piece of work to look at the way on-street parking works in Lytham, Ansdell and St Annes, and the options available to deal with some of the issues that were raised during the consultation.
“The report concludes that while there is pressure on parking in the central areas, particularly at peak times, there is no simple solution to managing the competing demands, and the most practical way to improve the situation is to maximise use of the existing capacity both on-street and off-street.”