Lancashire pay and display rethink after most districts say they do not want on-street machines

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The prospect of on-street pay and display machines being introduced in parts of Lancashire where kerbside parking is currently free has been ruled out in two thirds of the county’s districts.

As the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) revealed last week, Lancashire County Council had been considering a rollout of parking charges in several unnamed towns as part of its annual budget plans.

However, after being reminded of the disquiet that a similar proposal caused five years ago, the authority’s ruling Conservative group pledged to seek the opinion of Lancashire’s 12 district council leaders before making any final decisions.

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At a meeting of Lancashire leaders on Thursday, six districts - Burnley, Chorley, Pendle, Ribble Valley, South Ribble and Wyre – all said that they would not welcome fess being introduced in their areas. The LDRS understands that Fylde and Hyndburn, who could not attend the gathering, have since said the same.

Eight district councils gave a resounding 'no' when Lancashire County Council asked if they would like on-street pay and display machines in their areaEight district councils gave a resounding 'no' when Lancashire County Council asked if they would like on-street pay and display machines in their area
Eight district councils gave a resounding 'no' when Lancashire County Council asked if they would like on-street pay and display machines in their area

Rossendale also expressed concern, but sought further information, as did Lancaster City Council, which, along with Preston, is one of only two places where on-street pay and display is already in operation in Lancashire. Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen, as standalone council areas, are responsible for their own on-street parking arrangements.

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The proposal, as it was originally conceived, was expected to generate £794,000 a year for the county council’s coffers, albeit that it would have required an initial £1.95m investment in the machines themselves.

County Hall’s deputy leader - and cabinet member for resources - Alan Vincent said that it was only ever the intention to consider on-street charging in those towns where there are already off-street pay and display car parks managed by the district council for that area.

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"I made clear at the cabinet meeting that this item should be considered paused until we had an opportunity to discuss it at the district leaders’ meeting on 25th January, in order to seek their appetite for the scheme, with the benefit of their local knowledge.

"Of those present, Chorley, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Wyre, South Ribble and Pendle all made clear that they did not want any new pay and display parking, whilst the leader of Rossendale and the chief executive of Lancaster both expressed concerns, but wished to have more information before taking a final decision.

"I'm grateful to my colleagues for considering the proposal - and for their feedback - and I wish to make clear that no new parking meters will be imposed on any district that does not want them,” County Cllr Vincent said.

Speaking to the LDRS about the decision, Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley said that parking arrangements had to be based on “what works for the local dynamic” and also factor in residential parking permits.

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“We have a system in place in Chorley, which - while it isn't perfect and some people say it could be better - generally works well.

“There are mechanisms to make tweaks where needed - when some areas become more residential and some more retail - but it’s about best utilising the space that we’ve got,” Cllr Bradley added.

South Ribble Borough Council leader Paul Foster said that he had stressed that the authority did not want any parking charges introduced in its patch.

“We are delivering huge strategic investment into our town and village centres and any on-street parking charges will have a negative impact on the improvements we are seeking,” Cllr Foster said.

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Meanwhile, Fylde Council leader Karen Buckley said that when the county council previously ran an extensive consultation with residents in Lytham St. Annes about the possible introduction of pay and display along the promenade, the response was “overwhelmingly against this suggestion”.

“Our largest town, St. Annes, is coastal and local businesses depend upon the visitor economy. We are working to bring about regeneration to the area and the imposition of parking charges would counteract the benefits of the investment strategy we are looking to implement,” Cllr Buckley added.