SHOPPERS up in arms about changes to free parking at a town’s main retail centre have called on their MP to resolve the issue which she has branded ‘unacceptable’.

Hyndburn MP, Sara Britcliffe has written to Property Partners Management, who run the Arndale Centre in Accrington, after a resident in her constituency complained that the free parking allowance at the centre had been reduced from three hours to just 30 minutes.

Miss Britcliffe said there were growing fears that the reduction of free parking would drive shoppers out of the town centre at a time when the council was trying to encourage people to ‘shop local’.

In the letter, which she posted on Facebook, she said: “I am deeply disappointed that the company has taken this retrograde step, which will only achieve the opposite of everything the council and I are trying to achieve for our town centre.

“This should not be happening and is completely unacceptable.”

Miss Britcliffe also stated that the car park was a complete mess with concerns over safety due to a failure in the upkeep of parking bay lines.

She added: “It is very difficult to judge whether you are within the lines or not and this raises concerns over potential fines.”

The Hyndburn MP is now pleading with centre bosses to reconsider the decision as a matter of urgency and reinstate the free three-hour parking period to complement the hard work being done in trying to entice people back to the high street following the coronavirus lockdown.

She has also started a survey to obtain feedback from the people of Accrington in order to provide further evidence that the decision is not welcomed.

She added: “This is wrong. I feel very strongly about this issue and have started a survey on my website (

“I would appreciate if people could take five minutes to complete it.

“I will be taking the feedback to full council on behalf of the residents of Hyndburn.

“As a councillor, I have not only raised the problems with the parking restrictions at the Arndale on numerous occasions but have also helped many people who have been unfairly fined.

“This simply should not be happening and is completely unacceptable.”

On social media, one shopper said the decision would be the end for Accrington: “Why are they killing our town off, it’s the final nail in the coffin – 30 minutes is not time to do anything. Especially now when there are queues for everything.”

This is not the first time the centre has come under fire, as in 2018 a couple hit out at the car parking company after a return trip to buy a pint of milk ‘cost them £101’.

Mario Morante was out shopping with his wife in Accrington when a misunderstanding in the Arndale’s multi-storey car park landed him with a £100 fine.

Other shoppers had also voiced their concerns at the ‘unclear signs’ displayed within the shopping centre car park.

The Arndale Centre was contacted for a comment.