Photo: Lib Dem deputy leader Councillor Tony Dawson
Southport Lib Dem councillors are pressing Sefton Council’s Performance Scrutiny for a review of all aspects of the Sefton Council’s Parking operation.
They are pressing the Council’s Performance Scrutiny Committee to undertake a substantial review of the Parking process in the coming year.
Lib Dem deputy leader Councillor Tony Dawson, who represents Southport Town Centre on the Council, says:
“We were promised a review by the Cabinet Member in 2014 which was then conveniently delayed until after the elections. Then, when it finally came, there was no real review at all. The only thing which was reviewed was the prices which were yanked up.”
“There are many aspects of the parking operation which people want us to look at from the ‘no leniency’ rule on tickets flipped in the wind to attitudes and residents’ parking schemes.
” Sefton Council’s Parking operation has been widely criticised on a number of fronts. Southport people see it as a ‘cash cow’ for the council and visitors have been frustrated for over 4 years while the parking machines in Southport would not accept many coins in circulation. These have just recently all been modernised. Norwood Ward Lib Dem Councillor Dan Lewis says:
“I do hope that the Committee will agree to a wide-reaching review. It will be a test of the committee as to whether it can address this major issue. In surveys of the local residents, Parking has topped the list of their concerns by quite a way and I hope that the Committee will take its cue from the people in setting priorities. In the Welsh seaside town of Cardigan (below), where all the parking meters have been out of action for a month, there has been a major shopping boom.
All the ticket machines in Cardigan’s main car parks were vandalised last month and the council did not have the £22,000 cash spare to repair or replace them. Running without meters has led to a surge in visitors to town centre, with store owners’ sales are up by as much as 50 per cent. Traders say that shoppers are now “far more relaxed.”
Customers are saying that it is really nice not to have to rush back to their cars. Cardigan butcher Keith Davies, says that business is now better than it has been in years.
“We’ve long campaigned for free parking, and while we don’t condone the damage to the machines, the difference it’s made is unbelievable,
” he says This week at a meeting of Cardigan Town Council, traders spelled out how the destruction of the pay-and-display machines had led to their unexpected windfall.
“Instead of going out of town to Tesco or Aldi, people can stay in the centre for five or six hours without having to pay or worry about getting a ticket. They can go into shops then stop at a café or a restaurant without having to rush,” said one small shop owner.
“‘I’ve seen trade go up by around 20 per cent but some businesses have seen an increase of 50 per cent, which is not only good for the traders but it helps make Cardigan a thriving place.” “It sounds like the machines will be out until September which means summer visitors will benefit too. We understand the council needs revenue from them but hopefully they will agree to increase the time people can park for free.”
Bakery owner Martin Radley, current chairman of Cardigan Traders, says:
“It demonstrates what we’ve been saying for years: if you have lower parking fees, or even no fees, then people will come into town.’People who have enjoyed free parking at supermarkets are finding they prefer going to small, independent shops which offer goods of a far better quality.
People are staying longer and spending more. They feel more relaxed not having to worry about their cars.” The machines were charging £1.20 for an hour, rising to £2.20 for a maximum of three hours.
Ceredigion County Council says it may try to find a short-term emergency payment system and it is committed to getting the machines working as soon as possible. Cardigan had no traffic wardens for 12 months in 2011-12 after police stopped enforcement and before the council took over. But drivers argued over spaces which they sometimes stayed in all day, blocking shoppers from coming in and traders suffered from having loading bays blocked. This is the same reason why Pay and Display was originally brought in to Southport at a low level. Over the years, however, prices for parking have escalated, providing the Council with a huge income.
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