Sisters Paula and Lisa Mallinson are raising a cup of coffee in celebration after plans to charge customers for parking near their cafe were dramatically withdrawn by councillors.
The owners of The Folly in Worden Park, Leyland could have faced an alarming drop in business if visitors had been forced to cough up £2 to leave their cars.
But in a last gasp u-turn, South Ribble Council ditched the plan at a meeting this week, leaving Paula and Lisa breathing a huge sigh of relief.
“We were really worried,” confessed Paula. “It would have affected our business massively. About eighty per cent of our customers come to Worden by car. Many had said they would be going elsewhere if they had to pay to park.”
The council decision to withdraw the idea came after a placard protest at the gates of the park last weekend. More than 1,000 people signed a petition opposing the charges - 500 of them collected by Paula and Lisa at their coffee house. But while the late decision was a victory for the campaign, spearheaded by local independent councillor Claire Hamilton, it may yet prove futile.
It is thought the ruling Conservative group pulled the item from the agenda at the 11th hour because they feared they did not have enough support to vote it through. There are now fears it will be resubmitted at a later date.
Paula said: “We’ve had this cafe for 14 months and we’ve been building up the business. This would have pulled the rug from under our feet.”
At the same meeting councillors voted down proposals to increase charges at car parks throughout the borough and at Leyland railway station.
Coun Hamilton said: “It’s a great victory for residents and businesses who campaign against the charges. But I fear the council may bring this back to the table in the future and we must continue to fight against it.”