Town centre free parking for all deal gets go-ahead

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FREE car parking is to return to Garstang – but only on the town’s Windsor Road car park.

The move, highlighted in last week’s Courier, follows a land deal between the car park’s landowners, Wyre Council and Booths.

Once implemented it will bring to an end the “two tier” parking regime, which has seen drivers have to pay for parking on Wyre’s land and free parking on the Booths land.

Details of the deal, which will see the two landowners swap parts of the land in their ownership and involves Booths taking over the lease of the council owned land and running the whole car park for free, were discussed at a private meeting of Wyre Council last week.

A secret report said the land exchange and lease back arrangement would allow Booths to extend its existing free, three-hour short stay car park.

The document is also thought to have revealed exactly how much Booths will pay Wyre, on a regular basis, for the income the council will lose in revenue.

Prior to the “two system” parking regime, which was brought in last autumn when Booths decided to bring in free parking on its part of the car park, the whole park had been a pay and display park run by Wyre Council.

At the meeting it is reliably understood that one councillor attempted, unsuccessfully for the private document to be made public and another praised The Courier’s report outlining the background to the car park wrangle.

After the meeting Wyre council leader Coun Peter Gibson said: “We are pleased to have reached a successful outcome that will provide free parking for members of the public and that meets the requirements of both Booths and the council too.

“We’ve worked closely with Booths to resolve this matter and the new arrangement is the result of compromise by both organisations.

“Booths will now own the area of the car park closest to its store and we have protected a council asset and ensured it will continue to generate income.”

Booths property director Graham Booth said: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the council. Free short stay parking will enable Garstang to continue to appeal to visitors attracted by a range of quality independent shops within an historic market town environment.”