Controversial town centre parking restrictions voted through
Date published: 15 March 2019
Photo: Google, DigitalGlobe
Heywood Civic Centre Car Park
A three-hour parking limit will be introduced at a trio of Heywood town centre car parks, despite business owners’ fears they could be badly hit by the move.
The restriction will be brought in at Heywood Civic Centre, Taylor Street and Hill Street, following concerns commuters were leaving their cars in the town all day and effectively using it as a ‘massive park and ride scheme’.
But while some shopkeepers and traders have lobbied councillors to free up spaces for customers, others said that it would mean their own employees would be unable to park within walking distance.
And those who run businesses where customer visits can last more than three hours worry they may not be able to survive.
But despite making their cases passionately at a meeting of Heywood Township Committee, the new parking rules were voted through unanimously by councillors.
Addressing the meeting at Heywood Phoenix Centre on Thursday, Councillor Peter Malcolm said something had to be done to attract more shoppers into the town centre.
He said: “I know there will be losers and there will be a lot unfortunate people not able to do what they used to do, but doing nothing is not an option.
“We have had a lot of representation from business owners and business people about losing footfall.
“Some of you have been successful and are bringing people in, and we thank you for that.
“But some are slowly going under; we are getting more and more empty shops and we as a township have to grasp the nettle and say we are going to try to do something, we are going to change something, and this is what we are going to do.”
Vijay Tailor, of Tailor and Co Dental, said that the move would be pointless, if employees and business owners could no longer afford to go to work.
His business, on the corner of Hornby Street and Church Street, employs 10 people and is close to DG Opticians and P Wainwright Chiropodist.
Mr Tailor said: “The services we are offering on this side of town are health care services, they are for the benefit of the health of people in the town.
“We are now advancing ourselves into producing treatments that are going to span longer than three hours, do we take a patient who is anaesthetised walking out halfway through their treatment to move their car? It’s not practical and it’s not professional.
“It’s all very well to increase the number of shoppers coming in but without staff members being able to be present, we are going to close anyway.”
Richard Marsh, who owns Idlehands Tattoo Studio, said a mooted £600-per-year staff parking permit was far too expensive, and pleaded with councillors to come to a compromise.
And Alison Bamford, chair of Heywood Business Group, put forward a ‘compromise’ under which the scheme would first be trialled only at Heywood Civic Centre, but this was not taken up by the committee.
Despite heated contributions from business owners, Councillor Peter Malcolm insisted the committee was doing the right thing for Heywood.
Councillor Malcolm said: “We are going to end up with a town full of staff, but no customers able to get in, which is what we think, and some businesses think is the current situation.
“It’s an honest attempt to try and improve the town, we are not setting out to disadvantage businesses in any way whatsoever.”
Visitors using the affected car parks will have a time limit of three hours with no return within one hour.
This will apply between Monday and Friday during the hours of 8am to 6pm. Parking outside of these hours will remain unlimited.
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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