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East Lancashire councils 'on the case' over parking call
COUNCIL bosses who were told to make it easier for motorists to get into town centres say they are already acting on the issue.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has urged them to do more to provide free and cheap parking and remove obstacles to shoppers in cars.
But senior politicians in Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley and Hyndburn said his advice was unnecessary as they were already on the case.
However, Blackburn with Darwen Chamber of Trade president Tony Duckworth backed Mr Pickles’s advice as ‘spot on’, saying councils seemed intent on deterring motorists from town centres.
Mr Pickles issued new planning guidance telling councils to ensure parking charges did not ‘undermine’ town centres and warning that ‘Draconian" parking policies and ‘over-zealous traffic wardens’ drive motorists into internet retailers and out-of-town stores.
The guidance said: “The quality of parking in town centres is important. It should be convenient, safe and secure. Parking charges should be appropriate and not undermine the vitality of town centres and local shops, and parking enforcement should be proportionate.”
Mr Pickles said: “Draconian Town Hall parking policies and street clutter can make driving into town centres unnecessarily stressful and actually create more congestion.”
Blackburn with Darwen regeneration and highways boss Maureen Bateson said: “We are actively working on the regeneration of our town centre. This involves looking at the whole question of parking and access for motorists. We have already introduced free council car parks on Saturdays.” Burnley leader Julie Cooper said: “We have an active policy of promoting our town centre and it is seen as a good place to visit to shop, have a coffee or have a meal. We did experiment with free Saturday parking but it made little difference.”
Hyndburn deputy leader Clare Pritchard said: “We have free parking in town centres and pursue policies to promote them.”
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