FEARS have been raised about renewed chaos on Garstang’s main town centre car park in advance of next week’s ‘big split’.
From next Monday, September 5, the Windsor Road car park will be divided into two separate areas – a Booths section and a Wyre Council section.
The supermarket area will be free for three hours for Booths’ customers and the smaller Wyre section will continue as a pay and display car park.
But the planned changes have revived memories of previous parking headaches at the Windsor Road car park which left motorists angry, confused and sometimes facing fines because of ambiguous signs and unclear rules.
As reported in last week’s Courier, the council and Booths are going their own ways after failing to reach agreement on a joint policy for the car park, the whole of which Booths would liked to have seen made free of charge.
Booths said its car park, which will have about 200 spaces, would be operated as a short-stay shoppers car park only, with parking permitted for a maximum of three hours.
Parking meters on the Booths area of the car park will be removed as part of the new regime.
Explaining how the short-term parking system would work, a Booths spokeswoman said: “The arrangement will include the parking spaces at the far end of the car park which are currently marked long stay.’’
She stressed: “These arrangements only apply to that part of the car park which is owned by Booths and which is shown on the plan.”
Booths also intends to put up signs explaining which sections of the car park the new arrangements apply to.
Booths say the changes will be kept to a minimum to reduce disruption to the public. They have also pointed out a three-hour stay is not linked to any ‘spend in store’ deal, though the company will be monitoring parked vehicles.
The eastern section of the car park, which has about 100 spaces, is owned by Wyre Council. Pay and display parking and parking meters will continue operating there.
Asked how the council would deal with problems likely to be experienced by motorists following the division, a spokeswoman said: “We will let The Courier have details as soon as they are finalised.”
Borough leader Coun Peter Gibson said the council was “very close to reaching an amicable agreement with Booths to make sure that, come September 5, all our car park users are left in no doubt as to which areas of the car park are free and which require a ticket.”
Four years ago there was criticism of Wyre Council for the way it introduced its “R” (for residents) bays in the car park, with many motorists failing to understand how the system worked. Wyre later changed the system so residents could park for a limited time in any parking bay.
This week Coun Gibson also issued a statement clarifying its stance and its relationship with Booths.
He commented: “Although some people will automatically see the council as the bad guys, Wyre did not reject the suggestion for free parking nor turn down their offer to reimburse us for lost revenue. Nor has the council fallen out with Booths.
“What we could not agree on was certain caveats to the deal that we felt were too restrictive. Although frustratingly we cannot reveal what these were because of commercial sensitivity, I can tell you that they were not in the long-term interests of the community.”
Booths, who had been prepared to make up ‘lost’ income for car parking at Windsor Road, said it was not prepared to