Traders hit by roadworks win battle for free parking in Blackpool this Christmas
Shoppers will be able to park for free in Blackpool town centre from Monday after town hall chiefs gave in to pressure from traders.
The council has agreed to waive charges in Central car park after business owners warned traffic disruption caused by roadworks had led to a massive drop in revenue for many operators.
It will also cost just £1 to park in West Street, Talbot multi-storey and East Topping Street car parks. Both offers will run daily from Monday until December 31.
There will be free parking in all the council’s town centre car parks on December 23 and 24, as had previously been announced.
Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We try to support both businesses and shoppers where we can, which is why the free parking offer on Central car park is running for the whole of December, including the week between Christmas and New Year.
“We want shoppers to enjoy their time in Blackpool town centre and hope the discounted and free parking offers will encourage people to do their Christmas shopping and benefit from the diverse range of both small firms and bigger retailers we have here in Blackpool.”
It comes just 10 days after Labour councillors rejected a call by opposition leader Coun Tony Williams to extend the initial free parking offer which only covered the weekend of December 23 and 24.
This week, more than 100 traders gathered at a meeting of the Blackpool BID (business improvement district) to plead for help amid claims town centre roadworks are deterring shoppers.
Many said they had seen takings and customer numbers down between 30 and 75 per cent.
BID is helping meet the cost of free parking, and has contributed an undisclosed amount to the council.
A Blackpool BID board spokesman said: “It’s great news the council has listened to the businesses and ourselves and agreed to offer free parking.
“Some retailers are really concerned with the challenges they are facing as a consequence of the road works that are currently in place in the town centre.
“The businesses agreed free parking was one of the best options to try and kick-start Christmas shopping.”
Traffic is currently being diverted around the town centre while parts of Dickson Road and Talbot Road, including the junction of Talbot Road and the Promenade, are closed as part of a major overhaul of the town centre, including preparatory work for the extension of the tramway.
Traders are angry the work is being done in the run up to Christmas, traditionally one of their busiest times.
Simon Wrigley, owner of the Coffee Pot Cafe on Birley Street and Number Five in Cedar Square, said: “This has been the worst November since we opened, and takings are 30 per cent down compared to last year. So hopefully this free parking offer will give us the kick-start we need.”
Richard Lefton, from the Lefton furniture group, said: “I agree with free parking, but it’s too late because people are already shopping out of town. This should all have been thought out well before the start of the roadworks.”
Coun Williams said: “When I presented the motion calling for free parking during December to full council this Labour council turned it down flat, stating they weren’t prepared to lose £143,000 of car park revenue.
“I just hope it’s not too late to save the Christmas business for the town’s traders.”