Town centre parking charges under review

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Town centre parking prices are under review, the council has said, as a leading business organisation calls for a re-think on charges.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged council leaders across Greater Manchester to consider free parking schemes.

Wigan Council said it already operates “attractively priced parking” but would take on board the claims by the FSB in an ongoing review.

The FSB campaign cites the successful decision by Rochdale Town Hall to introduce three hours of free parking in its town centre, something which has boosted footfall.

Regional chairman Simon Edmondson said: “There’s plenty of evidence to show car parking charges hurt traders, and the figures from Rochdale speak for themselves.

“While we know some councils already operate differing forms of parking concessions, FSB believe the ‘first three for free’ is the best.

“The format prevents all day parking, but allows plenty of time for shoppers to go about their business without having to rush.”

Parking charges have been a topical issue for Wigan in recent years with much concern levelled at the prices charges by private operators in the town centre, such as the multi-storey offering at the Grand Arcade.

Wigan Council has in recent years offered reduced parking initiatives at different times of year, especially at Christmas, to encourage footfall for traders.

Mr Edmondson added that free parking schemes at Christmas should be read as an acknowledgement that charges do deter shoppers.

Regarding the FSB claims, Emma Barton, assistant director for economy and skills at the town hall, said: “We have attractively priced parking throughout the town centre, starting at only £1.50 for all day parking and offer free parking sessions around specific events in the town centre, to both encourage business and attract local and regional visitors .

“We are currently reviewing the town centre car parking strategy and will be incorporating the FSB findings into this review.”