“Insane” not to bring in charges

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City councillors have rejected calls from Lancaster businesses to maintain free parking on public holidays.

Coun Ron Sands, cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said that other authorities would think Lancaster was “insane” for not charging parking fees in council run car parks.

The city council has not charged for parking on public holidays in the past.

Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce and Lancaster Unlimited wrote to the council to object to the introduction of car parking charges on the eight or so public holidays during the year.

In a letter to the council, Vicky Lofthouse, chamber manager said: “Deterring visitors from the town centre on Bank Holidays would unnecessarily penalise businesses...by averting trade.

“Simultaneously, potential private investors may be reluctant to become established in Lancaster if trade is expected to decrease.

“It is indeed a difficult position in having to decide the precise areas for funding cuts and for increasing charges.

“However, it is objectionable to wittingly impede our local enterprises, which are highly instrumental in helping to sustain the economy.”

Paul Cusimano, chair of Lancaster Unlimited, said: “A saving of £5,000 to the city council is a paltry figure in comparison to the economic damage that could be done to city centre businesses, by the loss of free parking at bank holidays.”

But Coun Ron Sands said at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday: “The people in the Lake District would think we were absolutely insane not to charge on Bank Holidays.

“It seems to me that if Chambers of Commerce owned all the car parks, they would consider themselves insane for not charging!”

Coun David Smith: “There’s no such thing as free parking.”

The council agreed not to uphold the objections.