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Why town centre car parking needs to be free

Would making car parks free for an hour tempt people back to the town centre? <i>(Image: LT)</i>
Would making car parks free for an hour tempt people back to the town centre? (Image: LT)

With more and more retailers moving away from the town centre it is only a matter of time before they become completely deserted.

Car parking is a major issue for many people and unless drastic action is taken, I cannot see town centres becoming the thriving places they once were.

I have spoken to a number of people who claim never to have not stepped foot into Blackburn town centre for more than five years.

It is hard to believe but they just stopped coming. They would rather shop online or head off to retail parks. Car parking charges are a major issue.

Whilst I can understand it earns money for the local council, I still do feel that free parking for up to an hour would tempt a lot more people back.

Our town centres should not be placed in the same league as the bigger cities. We simply do not have problems with congestion as the major cities elsewhere.

There should be more onus on local councils to look at encouraging people to return to their local town centre. We also do not have the transport network that allows people to hop on to a tube or a tram and head to the centre.

Over the years planners have attempted to do this to town centre by changing road networks and then realising there was no actual need to do so.

The section of Northgate near Blackburn Library is a prime example. Smaller towns should be encouraging more people to come into the centre and if this means making parking free for a period then so be it.

Blackburn unlike other local towns has seen a mini boom with new restaurants and developments opening up in a short space of time.

This is due in some part to the investment from local entrepreneurs as well as a council which it open to change.

Free parking could help to rejuvenate parts of the town centre or we can continue in this vain hope that shoppers will come no matter what. They won’t.

There may be worse to come if rulings like those elsewhere are implemented.

I was reading about Bradford earlier this week where one business was highlighting how the city centre was becoming a ‘ghost town’ after the council there placed £1 parking charge after 6pm.

A pointless and stupid decision if there ever was one.