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St Helens Council freezes town centre car park charges
CAR parking charges at sites managed by St Helens Council will remain frozen throughout 2013, as part of an attempt to attract more shoppers to the town centre.
In a statement outlining its plans, the council said it had not increased parking fees since November 2006. It also boasted that it “retains its position as being one of the cheapest towns in the north west in which to park”.
The council says it “has deliberately kept prices down as part of its campaign to attract more shoppers into the town centre”.
It compared charges in Wigan (£1 an hour and £1.70 for two hours) and in Warrington (£1.50 for two hours), compared to rates of 60p for an hour and 80p for two hours at Chalon Way, St Helens.
Parking charges, nevertheless, draw in large revenues for the local authority, although the council did not release the figure when asked by the Star this week.
A town centre worker who wants to buy a 12-month pass to use Birchley Street car park would be charged £600. To park there for more than five hours costs £5 each day. The town’s controversial pay and display street parking regime also remains a thorny issue with many town centre visitors.
The scheme, brought in during 2009, is enforced by wardens and is cited as one of the reasons why footfall has, on occasions, declined.
Some traders maintain the street parking charges, introduced around the same time as the UK entered recession, presented them with an unnecessary obstacle.
The Labour council, which heavily criticised the parking regime that was introduced under Liberal Democrats, but did not remove it when they regained power, maintains it is striving to help the town centre be prosperous. As well as the parking price freeze, the ‘park for free after 3pm’ offer at major car parks will continue.
The council remains under huge financial strain because of £50m of cuts in Government funding over three years.
In a statement, council leader Marie Rimmer said: “These are difficult times and the council is doing all it can to attract shoppers into our town centre to help our retailers. We want to encourage more people to visit the town centre and take advantage of our retail offer.”