Parking fees are bane of our lives

Abi Dakin from Abi's Arrangements the new flower shop in Bare
Abi Dakin from Abi's Arrangements the new flower shop in Bare
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The cost of car parking is killing Morecambe town centre – our #SOSMorecambe campaign has revealed.

A poll of Morecambe retailers revealed the high price of car parking for shoppers is easily the biggest problem they faced.

Arndale Centre manager John Watkins has even called it “the bane of traders’ lives”.

Yet Lancaster City Council could raise car parking fees again this year.

Mr Watkins, also head of Morecambe’s Town Team, said: “Car parking prices in Morecambe is without a doubt the number one issue amongst traders and shoppers. Car parking is the one thing that can be done to improve footfall in the town centre and with people comes money. It is not the time to raise town centre car parking charges against a backdrop of empty shops, major retailers closing and free car parking at supermarkets.

“Morecambe deserves better and we all need to play our part to ensure that we are encouraging people to shop locally and support our stores.”

Stella Whelan, from Northern Relics antiques on Morecambe promenade, said: “We have a few customers who tell us they haven’t called in because of how our car parking charges compare to other towns. Why pay to park when most shopkeepers are struggling?”

And Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce said raising prices would be “the final nail in the coffin for local business”.

Lancaster City Council operates 17 car parks in Morecambe including a mix of long-stay and short-stay.

The council could raise one-hour fees by 10p, up to four hour and over four hour parking in short stay car parks by 20p, and long stay car park costs could increase by up to 50p. This would rake in an extra £33,400 for the council coffers, helping to offset a substantial shortfall in next year’s budget.

The council cabinet will meet for talks on the issue next Tuesday (January 22).

Raising car park prices goes against advice from Mary Portas, the TV retail guru hired by the Government to overhaul the high street.

She said local councils should introduce regular free parking days and praised Swindon for reducing short-stay parking charges, a move which boosted spend in the Wiltshire town’s centre.