A 10-month -long, £50,000 report into parking across Lytham, St Annes, and Ansdell, has been slammed as ‘unworkable’ and an ‘opportunity missed’.
Concessions for business users on seafront sites are among proposals being put forward to ease parking congestion on Fylde’s town centre streets.
Improved signing to off-street spaces and partial refunds of off-street parking fees in St Annes shops are other recommendations following a major survey of parking across Lytham St Annes.
But traders and residents have criticised the survey – commissioned at a cost of more than £50,000 by Lancashire County Council, which controls on-street parking – as not going far enough to alleviate ongoing problems.
St Annes town mayor Coun Ed Nash has long been campaigning for a residents’ parking scheme in town centre streets which currently have unrestricted parking.
He labelled the survey “a cosmetic exercise”, while St Annes Chamber of Trade has vowed to fight on in its long-standing bid to shopping area parking limits extended from one hour to two, also a concern in Lytham.
Disappointment at these findings is an understatement. I don’t think it is a case of our concerns not being listened to but they have been ignored or misinterpretedAndrew Fallow
The Chamber collected more than 3,000 signatures from business owners and shoppers on a petition which it presented to Fylde Council – responsible for off-street parking – and Lancashire County Council calling for the change to allow shoppers more time to browse stores.
But the survey has suggested keeping the status quo to encourage optimum turnover of vehicles and maintain the vitality of the town centres.
The County Council, however, has pledged, in the wake of the survey’s findings, to open up discussions with Fylde Council to encourage concessionary business use of car parks on St Annes promenade in a bid to encourage town centre workers away from residential streets as well as planning to talk with the Chamber of Trade over a refund scheme in shops.
Meanwhile in Lytham, where residents have also been pressing for scheme to free up spaces on unrestricted streets they say are often filled all day by workers and commuters, the County Council is also planning talks with Fylde over concessions for workers on Central Beach car parks.
But resident Liz Bachelor, who has long been campaigning for a residential parking scheme outside her home on Agnew Street, said: “It’s just not workable.
“My street is full all ways every working day and we need a residential parking scene.
“Concessionary spaces on the station car park might work but not Central Beach – people aren’t going to walk that far.”
Coun Nash feels the same way about the idea of St Annes town centre workers being offered the chance of concessionary spaces on seafront car parks after the survey’s findings dismissed the ides of a residential parking scheme as it was felt there are currently enough spaces for residents as well as workers and that residents’ permits are difficult to administer in areas with many properties having multiple occupation.
“Town centre streets such as Orchard Road, All Saints Road and Richmond Road are clogged up with workers’ cars all day and it makes it very difficult for emergency services and delivery drivers as well as residents,” he said.
“If they think workers are going to park at the seafront and walk to their offices, particularly when the winds are raging in winter, they are more optimistic than I am.
“The survey is just a cosmetic exercise which has failed to address the reality of the situation and we will fight on to find a way to ease the congestion,
“There are some welcome aspects, such as designated drop-off points for coaches, but as far as I am concerned, these findings are not the end, they are just the beginning.”
Arnold Sumner, co-ordinator of St Annes Chamber of Trade, said the Chamber would be happy to sit down with County Council representatives to talk about the idea of businesses refunding shoppers park of their off-street parking fee.
But he added that initial thought that such a scheme would be difficult to implement.
“It might work if people are spending large amounts but not for smaller transactions,” he said. “We have been long been pressing for two-hour spaces in the centre to allow drivers time to browse the shops in comfort rather than having to rush back to their vehicles and we are very disappointed that the county council survey has dismissed our concerns.”
Andrew Fallow, chairman of Lytham Business Partnership, said: “Disappointment at these findings is an understatement. I don’t think it is a case of our concerns not being listened to but they have been ignored or misinterpreted and I am really surprised that there aren’t more recommendations. This really is an opportunity missed.”
The County Council says the survey was commissioned to find the best way to address competing demands of residents, visitors and businesses while maintaining road safety and minimising congestion.
Carried out over 10 months by environmental specialists Jacobs, it included carrying out a number of consultation workshops to understand the concerns of local residents, councillors and businesses as well as a detailed analysis of parking patterns.
The County Council say the following solutions offered aim to ensure the best use of parking capacity in the central areas.
Improve signing to off-street car parks to ensure they’re better-used by visitors.
·Provide resident parking on South Clifton Street and Cottage Row to reduce congestion on these narrow roads.
·Monitor and control through police enforcement the parking and use of road space of lorries delivering to supermarkets on Clifton Street.
·Open discussions with Fylde Borough Council to explore whether concessionary rates could be offered to staff working at local businesses on Central Beach car parks, to free up more short-stay on-street parking spaces.
In St Annes:
Improve signing to off-street car parks to ensure they’re better-used by visitors.
·Open discussions with Fylde Borough Council to explore whether concessionary rates could be offered to staff working at local businesses on car parks on the promenade, to free up more short-stay on-street parking spaces.
·Open discussions with the Chamber of Trade to explore whether businesses favour offering incentives to encourage customers to use off-street car parks. This could ease congestion and encourage more frequent turnover of on-street parking.
·Provide three more spaces for disabled drivers on St George’s Road.
Explore opportunities to create more drop off points for coaches to boost tourism.
·Extend ‘no waiting’ restrictions on Central Drive between Gordon Road and Lansdowne Road to reduce congestion to cars and buses.
County Coun John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “It’s vital to manage parking in busy central areas to ensure people can visit the shops, get to work, and park near their homes. This helps to support the local economy, improve road safety, and ensure residents are not unreasonably inconvenienced.
“This review has been a very thorough piece of work to look at the way on-street parking works in Lytham, Ansdell and St Annes, and the options available to deal with some of the issues that were raised during the consultation.
“The report concludes that while there is pressure on parking in the central areas, particularly at peak times, there is no simple solution to managing the competing demands, and the most practical way to improve the situation is to maximise use of the existing capacity both on-street and off-street.
“There are also some proposals to better manage parking in specific areas, to reduce congestion, increase safety, and ensure residents are able to park.
“I support the solutions that have been put forward and we will now begin work to put them in place.
“Where the proposals involve making changes to traffic regulations we’ll carry out specific consultations to ensure the views of those affected are fully considered before a decision is made.
“We’ll discuss the recommendations with local councillors, Fylde Borough Council and the Chamber of Trade as some of the proposals involve creating incentives to encourage more use of off-street car parks by both visitors and people who work nearby. This has the potential to free up some of the on-street parking and encourage turnover to support trade.
“I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation, and hope residents and businesses alike will work with us to provide solutions which best meet everyone’s needs.”
The findings were being shared this week with interested parties including Fylde Council representatives and a Fylde spokesman said: “Parking issues have been under the spotlight for some time now and this study has been a very large piece of work that has looked at all the issues.
“The recommendations have to be looked at in conjunction with Fylde Council’s work in making the use of car parks more flexible in the last 12 months.
“We have introduced shorter stays and also the Fylde Residents’ Parking Scheme that aims to encourage use of car parks at non-peak times.
“We look forward to working with the county council in implementing this proposals.”