Huge shake-up of South Ribble car parking charges and maximum stays
A free first hour is to be introduced in all of South Ribble’s council-run car parks.
The move is part of a major overhaul of the rules at off-street parking facilities in the borough where charges apply - most of which are in Leyland.
It will extend the current concession where the first 60 minutes is free in a limited number of blue-coloured bays.
A new flat rate of £1 will also be levied for stays of up to three hours - an increase for those parking between one and two hours, who are currently charged 50 pence.
Several car parks will have their maximum length of stay altered - with Leyland town centre parking at Churchill Way and Sumner Street to be limited to three hours in an attempt to increase the availability of spaces for shoppers. All-day stays will be permitted at King Street to accommodate workers, while Lostock Hall’s Hope Terrace car park will also be designated long stay.
There will be no change to the arrangements at Leyland station, but charges will be introduced on the East Street car park in the town.
Sue Jones, cabinet member for the environment on the Labour-run authority, told a meeting of the full council that any system of charging would always be controversial, but described the changes - which will come into effect early next year - as “reasonable”.
“It would be impossible to please everyone, but the recommendations are fair, balanced and have taken into account the thoughts and opinions of residents, councillors and officers.
“The decision to make the first hour free in all car parks is based on the need for increased footfall in our communities.
“The last nine months have been difficult for everyone and, hopefully, this will give a boost to small businesses...creating a flow of traffic in our short-term car parks,” Cllr Jones said.
Unlimited free parking will also be introduced in all council car parks in the run-up to Christmas from 10am each day - starting on 4th December. Before that time each morning charges will continue to apply and vehicles must still be parked in marked bays.
The Conservative opposition group welcomed some aspects of the wider proposal - but claimed that it did not go far enough to provide the boon that businesses needed.
They instead called for a three-hour free parking limit - to be reviewed after six months - and criticised what Cllr Michael Green said was a “doubling” of the fee for some motorists.
“[This] will act as a disincentive to people coming into the town centres and using the local retail outlets and businesses that we need to support.
“To introduce this now, when businesses are struggling to survive... would be completely wrong.
“It’s only right we give them that extra level of support over the months ahead to allow them to continue - because if these businesses cease to exist, that will cause all sorts of issues for residents across South Ribble,” Cllr Green said.
However, Liberal Democrat group leader David Howarth said that there was an “environmental cost” to making car usage overly attractive for shopping trips.
“We need to be encouraging people onto public transport. One of the government’s own initiatives is to get everybody onto a bike - so I fail to see how...improving our quality by doing that has to be sacrificed because everybody has to jump into a car, according to Cllr Green, and go round to the local shops,” Cllr Howarth said.
The ruling Labour group argued that the Conservatives' proposal was uncosted and it was defeated at a vote.
The meeting heard that the council would adopt a “vigilant” approach to enforcing the new arrangements - with 18 hours of off-street parking patrols continuing across the borough every week.
Car parking charges generated £115,000 for South Ribble Borough Council during 2019/20. A report presented to members acknowledged that there were some uncertainties about the impact of the changes on that income, but the free first hour and increase in costs for longer stays are expected to offset each other.
As part of the changes, all of the borough’s pay and display machines will be upgraded at an estimated cost of £40,000. They were last replaced in 2004.
WHAT ABOUT WORDEN PARK?
A time limit of two hours will be set for parking at Worden Park during term time in an attempt to resolve a long-running row over the use of the facility by Runshaw College students.
Students had been able to obtain all-day passes to use the car park since 2016 after complaints that they were blocking residential roads nearby. However, the surface of the overspill car park of the site began to break up and was closed over a year ago - with the council blaming overuse and misuse by some of those attending the college.
A 90-minute limit was introduced because of the reduction in overall capacity - and that had been intended to remain in force even when the £120,000 overspill repair work was completed.
However, the maximum stay is to be increased following the results of a public consultation into the borough-wide car parking changes - but Alan Ogilvie, Conservative ward councillor for Buckshaw and Worden, said that it provided “insufficient” time for people visiting the park.
“[This] introduces an unacceptable and unnecessary level of rationing of access time to the park, especially for leisure and exercise.
“An effective ban on students using the car park means that [they] will migrate into nearby streets,” warned Cllr Ogilvie, calling for the reintroduction of the permit system that the council has scrapped.
Fellow ward councillor Caroline Moon said that the plans risked reigniting what had become a “non-issue” amid gradual public acceptance of a three-hour waiting limit that had been in place between 2012 and the overspill closure.
“[This review] has been triggered by the damage to the overflow car park and not by an issue [over] parking per se - and I feel that to reduce access to the car park even further is really unnecessary,” Cllr Moon said.
However, cabinet member for the environment, Sue Jones, said that the Worden parking facilities were “there for the convenience of residents and visitors, not college students”.
“When the [overspill] car park opens next year, we will have to agree on ways of preventing all-day use by students, while at the same encouraging the general public to use and enjoy the park,” Cllr Jones said, adding that day permits had been made available for distribution by the park's businesses.
The meeting heard that enforcement activity by Lancashire County Council on the streets close to Runshaw College had not found much in the way of illegal parking – but did identify significant numbers of vehicles waiting to collect students.
CHARGES 'NOT ENOUGH' TO DETER ALL-DAY USE
Farington West ward councillor Karen Walton urged the council to reconsider plans to allow all-day parking at the Hope Terrace car park in Lostock Hall.
"Charges were originally brought in because motorists were parking all day and using public transport to go into Preston, so there was no room for local residents to park to use the shops, businesses and the only playground in the area for miles," said Cllr Walton, who called for three hours to be made available free at the facility.
"I also think the £3 charge for all-day parking is not sufficient to stop workers parking all day when things return to normal."
***The first hour will be free in all council-run car parks, but a ticket must be displayed and vehicles cannot return within three hours.
***Leyland’s Churchill Way and Sumner Street car parks to become short stay, with a charge of £1 for up to a maximum stay of three hours (no return within three hours).
***Simplified charges at Leyland Market (Ecroyd Street) car park - £1 for up to three hours, £3.00 for up to five hours and £10 for over five hours.
***Leyland’s Kings Street and Lostock Hall’s Hope Terrace car parks to be designated long stay, with charges of £1 for up to three hours, £3 for the whole day and £12 for seven consecutive days.
***Introduction of charges on Leyland’s East Street car park - £1 for up to a maximum of three hours - and a residential permit scheme.
***Maximum two-hour waiting limit at Worden Park, on weekdays between 9am and 3pm during term time only. A free ticket will have to be displayed.