Park­ing fees re­turn to free up spa­ces

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Active - BY JAMIE LOPEZ

PARK­ING charges will re­sume in Orm­skirk from Oc­to­ber amid fears that all spa­ces will be filled by univer­sity stu­dents and peo­ple not vis­it­ing busi­nesses.

West Lancashire Bor­ough Coun­cil is cur­rently the only lo­cal au­thor­ity in Lancashire or Mersey­side not to have re­in­stated charges but coun­cil­lors agreed last week to re­in­state charges from Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 5.

Park­ing fees were dropped at coun­cilowned car parks in March ini­tially to pre­vent Covid-19 trans­mis­sion through use of the pay­ment ma­chines and then to avoid de­ter­ring peo­ple from vis­it­ing the town cen­tre.

But as lock­down re­stric­tions have been lifted and shop­pers re­turned to the town cen­tre and mar­ket, de­mand for car parks has reached ca­pac­ity and coun­cil chiefs fear lack of spa­ces will force peo­ple to out of town re­tail parks.

The ar­rival of Edge Hill Univer­sity stu­dents later this month is ex­pected to ex­ac­er­bate the prob­lem as those liv­ing in the town cen­tre may oc­cupy the car parks long term.

Mar­ket traders were also blamed for tak­ing up spa­ces which could have been used by shop­pers.

A re­port pre­pared for coun­cil­lors stated: “Where shop­pers and vis­i­tors to the town cen­tre strug­gle to find a park­ing space we risk them choos­ing to take their cus­tom else­where, where park­ing is not so dif­fi­cult, in­clud­ing to cen­tres out­side West Lancashire and out-of-cen­tre re­tail parks.

“If car parks con­tinue to be free, this sit­u­a­tion may even get worse as stu­dents re­turn to Edge Hill Univer­sity in late Septem­ber for the new aca­demic year, as there are a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of stu­dents who live in the town cen­tre and so the num­ber of town cen­tre res­i­dents who may be tempted to park in the coun­cil’s car parks overnight and through­out the day, be­cause there is no charge, may in­crease.”

The rein­tro­duced charges will re­main at pre­vi­ous rates, in­clud­ing a fee of just £1 for three hours.

Plan­ning port­fo­lio holder Cllr Dave Evans said: “Fol­low­ing on­go­ing re­view of the ef­fect of free park­ing on Orm­skirk town cen­tre, it is clear charges must be rein­tro­duced to en­cour­age more shop­ping cus­tom and elim­i­nate those who have been us­ing the car parks for all day free park­ing.

“It has been found that some res­i­dents have parked up for the day get­ting the train to Liver­pool, which is no ben­e­fit to Orm­skirk or West Lancashire what­so­ever.

“Even a small mi­nor­ity of mar­ket traders were park­ing up for the day de­priv­ing their fel­low traders and even them­selves of much needed cus­tom as res­i­dents re­turn to shop­ping.

“Town cen­tre busi­ness and many mar­ket traders have raised these con­cerns with me call­ing for the rein­tro­duc­tion of charges to draw more cus­tomers in.

“With the re­turn of Edge Hill Univer­sity stu­dents in the com­ing weeks, this is cer­tainly the cor­rect de­ci­sion to en­sure that the town cen­tre car parks are not abused by all-day park­ers and we can sup­port our lo­cal busi­nesses, econ­omy and jobs.”

How­ever, the plans have come un­der fire from one Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor who called for the Labour group to pub­lish the full re­port which led to the de­ci­sion to rein­tro­duce charges.

Cllr Sam Cur­rie also at­tacked Cllr Evans’s sug­ges­tion that mar­ket traders were caus­ing the car parks to hit ca­pac­ity as “shame­ful”.

He added: “I urge him to apol­o­gise to those peo­ple he is point­ing the fin­ger at to try and fur­ther his party’s own am­bi­tions for Skelmers­dale to be sub­sidised by the rest of the bor­ough.

“The con­tin­ued de­ci­sion to pe­nalise Orm­skirk shop­pers with charges whilst keep­ing Skelmers­dale con­course free is out­ra­geous. The Con­ser­va­tive group at West Lancashire re­main com­mit­ted to do­ing all we can to help our lo­cal busi­nesses and will con­tinue to fight these ab­surd de­ci­sions.”

Cllr Dave Evans

Cllr Sam Cur­rie

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