Cam­paign­ers lose fight for free park­ing

The Sentinel - - NEWS - Phil Cor­ri­gan Po­lit­i­cal Re­porter philip.cor­ri­gan@reach­plc.com

FREE town cen­tre park­ing would cost tax­pay­ers £100,000 a year, coun­cil chiefs say.

More than 500 peo­ple signed a pe­ti­tion call­ing on Stoke-on-trent City Coun­cil to pro­vide two hours’ free park­ing in Long­ton on mar­ket days.

The pe­ti­tion­ers claimed that Long­ton was be­com­ing ‘in­creas­ingly des­o­late’ due to shop­pers us­ing the free Tesco car park and ‘not ven­tur­ing fur­ther into the town’.

But Daniel Jel­ly­man, cab­i­net mem­ber for re­gen­er­a­tion and trans­port, in­sisted that the main Long­ton Ex­change car park was al­ready well used, ca­ter­ing for around 118,000 mo­torists a year.

He told the city re­newal over­view and scru­tiny com­mit­tee that there was no ev­i­dence to sug­gest park­ing fees were putting peo­ple off com­ing to Long­ton.

It cur­rently costs £1.60 to park for two hours on the 213-space Long­ton Ex­change.

Mr Jel­ly­man said: “At Long­ton Ex­change it works out as 290 peo­ple a day pay­ing for two hours. The con­cern was that peo­ple are be­ing put off by the park­ing charge, but the facts and fig­ures tell a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story.

“Peo­ple do walk from Tesco into the town cen­tre – it’s not ex­actly a desert. It’s the same in Tun­stall with a car park at Asda. There is more of an is­sue in Burslem and Fen­ton, where there isn’t a big car park pro­vided by a multi­na­tional su­per­mar­ket.

“Pro­vid­ing two hours of free park­ing in Long­ton would cost the coun­cil £100,000. The ma­jor­ity of tick­ets pur­chased are for two hours.”

Mr Jel­ly­man added that the coun­cil al­ready of­fered a £1 flat rate on all its town cen­tre car parks af­ter 3pm.

The pe­ti­tion, which called for free park­ing for two hours on Wed­nes­days, Fri­days and Satur­days, was re­ferred to the scru­tiny com­mit­tee for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion af­ter be­ing pre­sented at Septem­ber’s full coun­cil meet­ing.

But com­mit­tee mem­bers agreed that such a mea­sure would be prob­lem­atic.

Coun­cil­lor Paul Shot­ton said: “If you re­move the in­come from a car park you have to re­place that with some­thing else. And if we did this in Long­ton, it would have to be city­wide. We’d have to do it in Stoke, in Tun­stall and so on.

“There’s a con­cern that peo­ple go to the re­tail park and just stop there. My un­der­stand­ing is that orginally there was go­ing to be a time limit on that car park, but it’s never been im­ple­mented, so peo­ple can park there all day.”

Coun­cil­lor Dave Evans sug­gested that park­ing charges was not the real is­sue in Long­ton.

He said: “If the car park is al­ready full on Satur­days, mak­ing it free is not go­ing to make more peo­ple go to Long­ton. But maybe there’s a need for more park­ing, rather than re­duc­ing the price.”

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