Anger over bid by council to sell ‘car park’ land

Councillors Don Hodgkinson, left, and Gary Wilkes at the car parking spaces on Ash Street, Bryn, that they fear may be sold off by the council

Councillors Don Hodgkinson, left, and Gary Wilkes at the car parking spaces on Ash Street, Bryn, that they fear may be sold off by the council

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CAMPAIGNERS want to halt controversial plans to sell off land used as an unofficial car park.

The cash-strapped council has indicated its intention to dispose of the freehold to land at Bryn Cross.

But the proposal is worrying ward councillors Gary Wilkes and Don Hodgkinson, and local traders, and they are now asking residents who share their fears to write in to the town hall and add their voice to the protest.

The councillors insist that although comparatively small, the land behind the World of Furniture store and its informal seven or eight vehicle space capacity are key to the continued economic vitality of the shopping area.

And they say losing the parking capacity used by the community could result in more closed and boarded-up shop premises.

Coun Wilkes, leader of the opposition on Wigan Council, said: “Before Don and I were elected, the council, in their wisdom, sold part of this land to the owner of World of Furniture.

“But at least some of it was saved for car parking for shoppers supporting the other independent retailers along the frontage, because parking is at a real premium in Bryn.

“Now it appears that the council want to cash in by selling the freehold to the remainder of the car parking as well which could be disastrous for the shops because their customers will have no where to park.

“You don’t need to be Mystic Meg to predict what will happen if this car park goes - the customers will end up elsewhere and the shop will close.

“It may only be a small piece of land but it is highly significant for Bryn .”

Trader Stephanie Brookes, of The Wedding Place, backed the councillors’ concerns.

She said: “I have felt for a number of years that the only thing the shops in Bryn Cross had going for them, apart from the shops themselves, was the fact that there was space to park and it was free. Take that away from customers and that leaves very little.”

A council spokesman said: “This small, unsurfaced piece of land is used by some people to park their vehicles but is not a parking facility we maintain or control.

“The owner of the adjacent property has expressed interest in buying the land. Council officers will be meeting with ward councillors shortly.”