Will parking permits plan cause Chorley residents to run out of road?
Residents on the outskirts of Chorley town centre say plans to cut the price of parking permits for businesses will make it almost impossible for them to find a space close to their own homes during the day.
Lancashire County Council is currently consulting on a proposal to equalise how much permits cost across the county. Prices for residential and business permits currently vary depending on the district for which they are issued.
The authority says that it wants to bring “fairness and consistency” to the schemes.
Under the proposal, all residential and business permits will cost £25 for 12 months. While that figure is mostly a nominal increase or decrease for residents, businesses in some districts could end up paying far less than they previously did.
In Chorley, the cost of a business permit could drop by more than £200 and businesses will remain eligible to apply for two permits each.
Woodville Road resident Denise Godsmark said the proposals would make a bad situation worse.
“If I come home from work at 5.30pm or if I go out during the day and come back, then half the time I can’t find anywhere to park in my own street.
“If businesses are allowed two permits at that price, they’ll snap them up. But these people don’t live here, they work here – so should they be should be using the public car parks instead,” she added.
Many of the residential roads close to the town centre used to be reserved for residential permit holders only – but, in recent years, those with a business permit have also been allowed to park in them.
Michael John, who owns a salon on the corner of Woodville Road, says he can appreciate the residents’ frustration. He allows his neighbours to use the private, off-street parking which he created for his business whenever the spaces are not needed by his customers.
“Every night if there are no spaces on the street, the first couple of people home can come on here,” he smiles.
“But it’s not on for the businesses to be able to dominate all the space – I’m a business owner and I don’t expect to be able to get these permits.”
Denise also claims that workers at the town’s police station are increasingly using the free on-street spaces available in the vicinity.
“That pushes other people who might have used those spots to get a permit and come and park in roads like mine. The police station has an underground car park, so I don’t know why that isn’t being used,” she said.
Lancashire Constabulary declined to comment on the issue.
Steve Holgate, county councillor for the Chorley Central division, said responsibility for parking permits should have been formally devolved to the district councils, some of whom previously oversaw the schemes in their own areas.
“There were different regulations in different districts, because there are different demands across the county. In my view, the permits should be administered at a local level, rather than county-wide,” he said.
Peter Bell, regulation and enforcement manager for Lancashire County Council, said: “The changes being proposed are intended to bring fairness and consistency to the way parking schemes operate across Lancashire.
“To be eligible for a business permit, a vehicle would need to be recorded as part of the business at the location of the scheme and integral to the running of the business.
“These permits have been available for many years and the volume issued is very low.
“If the council saw a spike in applications we would review the criteria that is currently in place to manage demand.”
While the permits system may be about to be standardised across Lancashire, the signs in two Chorley streets are not.
On Royle Road and Farrington Street, the information plate at one end of the road reads “residential parking permits only”, while at the other, motorists are advised that all “permit holders” – which would include businesses – are able to park there.