New parking tariffs designed to encourage town centre trade have been compared to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic by a campaigner.
Fylde Council has announced that, from next month, a range of flexible charges will be brought into effect on its car parks.
For the first time, drivers can pay for just half an hour’s parking in short-stay spaces for 80p, and an hour in long-stay areas for £1.20.
Councillors say the new measures are designed to encourage residents to shop local, and come as officials of St Annes Chamber of Trade await the results of a consultation over measures called for in a petition signed by more than 3,000 people.
The Chamber has already said the shorter-term tariffs are ‘bound to lead to confusion’, but St Annes businessman Andrew Smith, who helped the Chamber collect signatures on their parking petition, went further at the Chamber’s latest meeting.
“These changes may make some small improvements, with the emphasis on the word small,” he said. “But how many shops have closed down recently? The ship is sinking and it seems the council is just rearranging the deckchairs.
“Of all the attractions we have in our lovely town, the St Annes flag shows a ship sinking and I have to say ‘how appropriate’. We can do much better than this.”
Along with longer stays in on-street spaces governed by Lancashire County Council, greater flexibility at off-street sites were prime among the pleas in the Chamber’s petition, which was signed by 3,500 traders and residents and passed on to County Hall as well as Fylde Council.
But Chamber of Trade co-ordinator Arnold Sumner said: “The idea of a 30-minute tariff won’t work. It will just add to confusion over prices and time limits.”