Traders are celebrating after a shock U-turn by County Hall signalled the prospect of longer parking time limits in St Annes.
Officials at the highways authority are ready to extend the existing one-hour limit in the shopping streets closest to St Annes Square to 90 minutes for an experimental period of 18 months.
If the proposal is approved the necessary order will be drafted and once made will be operational for an 18-month period
The prospective change in key shopping streets – such as Orchard Road, Park Road, Wood Street and St Andrew’s Road South – is a breakthrough for St Annes Chamber of Trade.
It has been lobbying for more than 10 years for the time limit to be doubled to two hours to allow shoppers more time to browse stores and make the most of the town centre’s cafes and restaurants.
The announcement, made to traders by Lancashire cabinet member for highways and transport, John Fillis, comes just weeks after the Chamber was left frustrated when a survey of parking across Fylde by the County Council – commissioned at a cost of more than £50,000 – recommended leaving the time limits as they were.
The County Council’s post-survey recommendation to opt for the status quo on time limits came despite the Chamber having collected a petition within the last year bearing more than 3,000 signatures, backing the call for the one-hour limit to be doubled.
Officials of the traders’ representative body pledged to fight on and made their objections clear to County Council officials at follow-up meetings – and now County Coun Fillis has written to the Chamber to say: “A meeting has recently been held between officers and myself at which the issues raised by attendees of the recent feedback meetings were discussed.
“A formal report requesting permission to the making of an experimental traffic regulation order, providing an increase to the on-street waiting time to a maximum of 90 minutes, is to be submitted for consideration and approval.
“If the proposal is approved the necessary order will be drafted and once made will be operational for an 18-month period.
“Within experimental orders, there is provision to allow alteration of the order within the first six months to take into account any operational difficulties subsequently encountered.
“If at the end of the 18-month period the trial is found to be unsuccessful then a permanent order will not be made and previous existing restrictions will come back into force.”
Arnold Sumner, the Chamber of Trade’s co-ordinator who has been a prime campaigner for the time limits to be extended, said: “We have been looking for an extension to the hour limit for at least a decade and this is a major breakthrough.
“I have lost count of the number of business owners who have highlighted to me that they have called it a day in the town centre because their customers aren’t able to spend enough time there before having to dash back to their vehicles for fear of getting a ticket.
“We are pleased that the County Council has looked at this again and look forward to the new experimental limit being introduced, but the campaign doesn’t stop here.
“I am sure this extended limit will be a success and hopefully it will convince the County Council that a further extension to two hours, that we have been calling for, is worth looking at.”