Free parking ends row

The Windsor Road car park will become free after a deal was struck
The Windsor Road car park will become free after a deal was struck
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Free parking will be introduced on a town centre car park after a bizarre ‘row’ over the facility was brought to an end.

Booths wanted the entire Windsor Road car park, surrounding its store in Garstang, near Preston, to be free of charge.

But complex land ownership issues meant, while part of the facility was free, drivers were charged to use the part of the car park owned by Wyre Council.

Now the council’s cabinet has granted formal approval to enter into a land exchange and lease back arrangement that will allow Booths to extend its existing free, three hour, short-stay car park.

It will mean transfer of land at the site between the two parties.

Booths will then lease the council-owned land, becoming responsible for the entire car park and enabling them to offer free parking throughout.

And it will bring an end to the bizarre wrangle which first came to light last autumn and which has left drivers in the town scratching their heads.

Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Council, said: “We are really pleased to have reached a successful outcome that will provide free parking for members of the public and that meets the requirements of both Booths and the council too.

“We’ve worked closely with Booths to resolve this matter and the new arrangement is the result of compromise by both organisations.

“Booths will now own the area of the car park closest to their store and we have protected a council asset and ensured it will continue to generate income.”

The two charging regimes on the car park had left residents and visitors to the town flummoxed.

It came to light last year when Booths announced the car park would be free.

The move is still subject to legal approval and no information has been released over how long the deal will last.

But Graham Booth, property director for Booths, said: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the council.

“Free short-stay parking will enable Garstang to continue to appeal to visitors.”

Wyre Council has also moved to dispel any suggestions the deal has any impact on Garstang Leisure Centre, given some of the land in question lies close to the facility.

The future of the leisure centre is being reviewed by consultants who are expected to report their findings soon.

Coun Gibson said: “The idea to exchange the land came solely out of discussions with Booths . . and . . does not in any way affect the future of Garstang Leisure Centre.”