Council’s U-turn after pitch furore

A football cage

A football cage

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Chorley Council has made a U-turn on plans to site an activity cage in the town’s main car park in the run-up to Christmas.

Traders were stunned at the local authority’s suggestion to put a temporary football pitch on the Flat Iron car park three days before Christmas.

Malcolm Allen, chair of the Chorley Trader’s Alliance and owner of Malcolm’s Musicland on Chapel Street, believed the idea would put people off visiting the town on December 22, because there would be fewer places to park.

He said: “The move was welcomed by traders like a hole in the head.

“We need all the car parking spaces we can get in the run up to Christmas, so I can’t believe the council agreed to this.

“The idea isn’t in the interest of the town because people coming from outside of Chorley would see how busy it is and just keep on driving without stopping to shop.”

After criticism that the ‘Chorley Street Striker’ activity would take up 22 of the Flat Iron’s 362 spaces at the busiest time of year, the council decided to move the cage to Market Street instead.

“I do think the idea is good,” Mr Allen said. “But the Flat Iron was totally the wrong place for it.

“The council is running the ‘Choose Chorley this Christmas’ campaign to attract people to the town, but putting the football pitch on the Flat Iron would just have created an obstacle for shoppers.”

He added: “People do a lot of last-minute shopping in the week before Christmas, and they need to park close to the shops.

“We don’t know what the weather will be like then, but people don’t want to be trudging through snow from a car park on the outskirts of the town centre.

“The week before Christmas is crucial for traders; it’s make or break for us, so taking up car parking spaces with a football pitch was the last thing we needed.”

Coun Peter Goldsworthy, Leader of Chorley Council, said: “The council is organising Get Up and Go activities in the town centre to keep young people entertained and encourage more families to shop in Chorley and stay for longer in the run up to Christmas.

“One of the activities planned is a Chorley Street Striker competition between 12 noon and 6pm on December 22, and we have been looking at a few locations across the town centre for this.

“After getting the views of traders, this activity will now take place on Market Street and people of all ages will be able to take part for free.”

The move has also been supported by other retailers in the town.

A spokesman for Market Walk said: “The football event will provide an enjoyable diversion for the children while enabling their mums and dads to do their Christmas shopping in peace.”