Free parking at the weekend in Preston city centre could soon become more difficult to find, with charging set to be introduced at a council staff car park which is currently opened up for shoppers on Saturdays and Sundays.
Lancashire County Council is poised to install pay and display machines at the Arthur Street facility next to County Hall. Cabinet members will be asked to approve the proposal at a meeting next week.
If the plan goes ahead, visitors using the 136-space car park will have to pay £1.60 for up to two hours, £3.20 for no more than four hours or £4.00 to permit them to stay all day.
Vehicles bearing a blue badge for the disabled will be entitled to three hours’ free parking, but will have to pay and display for however long they park beyond that time. Six disabled spaces will be created under the plans.
The car park first lifted its barriers for free at the weekend in the run up to Christmas back in 2012. It is also open for use by visitors to the city on Bank Holidays.
Preston’s Business Improvement District (BID), which works to promote the city centre, has called for a rethink.
“Whilst Preston city centre enjoys plentiful car parking, priced very reasonably in comparison to many other towns and cities, it’s disappointing that Lancashire County Council have opted to charge for parking at Arthur Street,” a spokesperson said.
“Their complimentary parking offer has always been a positive addition to the free parking proposition the city promotes at Christmas and we would hope that they would continue to offer the facility on a complimentary basis, specifically at this important time of year for many business rate-payers.”
Papers to be presented to cabinet reveal that the plan is part of an “invest to save” initiative - with £30,000 set to be spent on installing the pay and display equipment, but £40,000 expected to be generated in revenue each year.
Clare Joynson, head of facilities management at Lancashire County Council, said the charges will be introduced later this year, if cabinet members give the green light to the scheme.
“The Arthur Street car park was originally opened up for public use during the Christmas period, however the level of demand led to the car park opening for public use every weekend.
“This has led to increased maintenance and running costs with charging proposed to help contribute to these costs, and enable us to retain this public parking facility close to the city centre.
“Parking would cost from £1 up to £4 for 12 hours, which is in line with other county council car parks in the city centre.
“Charges are also being introduced for visitor parking at the Registration Service offices and Lancashire Archives Service, which will also be used to maintain these car parks.”
PAYING TO CELEBRATE THE FUTURE - AND REVISIT THE PAST
As well as something old, new, borrowed and blue, anybody transporting a bride to the registry office in Preston city centre could soon have to make sure they have some loose change to park as well.
Charges will be introduced in the car park at the Bow Lane venue if cabinet members at Lancashire County Council approve the plan next week. Visitors to the Lancashire Archives will also have to pay to park under the proposal.
A report from council officers says that the charges should lead to increased availability of spaces by “eliminating incidents of free parking by non-visitors to the services and dissuading non-visitors from using the car parks”.
If the changes are brought in, visitors to the registry office will be charged £1.00 to park for an hour, with a maximum two-hour stay costing £1.60.
The same tariff will apply for visitors to the Lancashire Archives, but longer stays are permissible for that purpose - costing £3.20 for up to four hours and £4.00 for a longer stay.
Four disabled spaces will be created at the Lancashire Archives car park, which will be free for the first three hours and subject to charges after that time. Two disabled spaces will be introduced at the registry office car park and they will be free for the maximum two-hour stay.