Phone-to-park U-turn

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COUNCIL chiefs are to do a U-turn on Wigan town centre’s controversial mobile phone parking project.

Although the trial scheme will continue for the next 12 months, conventional cash ticket machines are to be re-instated as well this month after a public outcry.

Town hall bosses bowed to pressure from a campaign headed by Coun George Davies who took up the cause of Wigan traders who claimed the move was discouraging older shoppers who were less confident using the new-fangled technology on streets around the town hall.

The new cash ticket machines – set to be installed in Library Street, Millgate and Hewlett Street alongside the mobiles – will be new-generation solar-powered units which are increasingly replacing the “life expired and unreliable” mains powered stations.

Coun Davies said that his surgeries have been packed with business folk and shoppers complaining about the new parking scheme which bills you by mobile – because there was no alternative.

He said that he supports innovation, but not at the price of scaring off older people who may not understand or be comfortable with such technology.

Coun Davies said that he had met with ruling Cabinet chiefs and highways department officers to put the case for town centre traders.

They were aghast at the sight of “deserted” mobile phone ticket only parking bays after the scheme became live last month.

And feared that it was driving out shoppers and visitors for good.