Preston Council leader Peter Rankin answers your questions

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Parking, fracking and Preston’s control over its future were among the questions answered by the leader of the city council.

The Lancashire Evening Post put readers’ questions to Coun Peter Rankin, in an interview in his Town Hall office yesterday.

Interview: Leader of Preston Council Peter Rankin with reporter Sarah Fielden

Interview: Leader of Preston Council Peter Rankin with reporter Sarah Fielden

Among the questions were the possible impact of changes to business rates on Preston, plans for events in the city’s parks, and Preston’s role in the Northern Powerhouse.

He said, at the moment, it was difficult to know how the council would be affected by proposed business rates changes, which would allow local authorities to keep all the cash raised.

Coun Rankin said: “George Osborne has said by 2020 we can keep our own business rates but we won’t get a grant from central government.

“We don’t know enough about the technicalities of what they are proposing, and, as far as the business rates are concerned, we don’t know whether or what proportion would have to go to the county council.

In the run up to Christmas we will be announcing free parking facilities

“The other big issue is there are a lot of businesses who are appealing their business rates, and if our business rates go down we could actually suffer as a result.

“Generally, I think northern authorities are going to come off badly compared with authorities in the south.”

Asked about the potential for free parking in the city, to attract more visitors to shops, Coun Rankin said: “The city council actually owns less than 30 per cent of car parking spaces available in Preston.

“So if we were to throw open our car parks we would lose money for the tax payers of Preston.

“In the run up to Christmas we will be announcing free parking facilities.”