Lancaster venues and restaurants need bolstering with the city’s parking system

Lancaster’s theatres, entertainment venues, restaurants and hospitality businesses need a parking system that encourages, not deters, visitors, a leading adviser has said.

A proposed new, simpler fare system has raised concerns that patrons of theaters and restaurants will be deterred, just as theatres, arts venues and restaurants are recovering from the lockdown. Consider additional parking options for arts and entertainment audiences.

And specific discussions are needed with theaters and entertainment venues to better identify their needs and views, which may be different from those of other groups and business sectors, the city council office said.

Labor Councilor Sandra Thornberry has raised concerns over a proposed set of new parking rates for Lancaster town centre. She was speaking at Lancaster City Council’s latest cabinet meeting, during an update on proposed new rates for the district. Fees have not changed since 2018 and advisors agree that some changes are necessary.

In Lancaster the rates offered are £1 for 30 minutes, £2 for one hour, £4 for three hours, £9 for nine hours and £12 for 24 hours.

In Morecambe, short-term parking for up to three hours would have options of £2, £3 or £4.

Other Morecambe parking charges would be mainly £1, £2, £4 or £8 for 30 minutes, two hours, four hours or 24 hours respectively. Heysham is said to have options of £2 or £3 for two hours or 24 hours.

Earl Thornberry told the cabinet: ‘In relation to Lancaster town center rates, have there been any consultations by council officers with significant organizations who may be affected? I’m thinking of the Grand and Duke theaters, as well as other entertainment venues and restaurants that are often associated with them.

Green Coun Gina Dowding, who had outlined the pricing plans, said: “Business improvement organization BID and the Chamber of Commerce have had the opportunity to provide feedback to agents. It may also be possible to create flexible agreements between car parks and hospitality companies in the future, such as the former Park Safe overnight scheme. Council officers are ready to work with local businesses on options.

But during a debate, Councilor Thornberry added: “I am very concerned about the rates proposed by Lancaster. I spoke to the Grand Theater and Duke’s volunteers but didn’t get a chance to speak to the manager.

“The proposals include removing the low evening and overnight parking fees we currently have. The proposed time allocation is also increased from three to nine hours. Three hours is not enough for theater visitors. A family going to a panto would not make the round trip in three hours. Still, the £9 nine-hour fare would be a huge deterrent to a family visit.

“In the evening, many theatergoers want to spend more than three hours in the city center. Many would like a meal deal that both theaters offer. But they would face a parking charge of £9, which would be a great deterrent.

‘Pensioners can get cinema tickets for £4.50, but if they have to pay £9 parking fee they will say ‘forget it’.

“I accept that parking rates need to go up, but these plans would be a big step forward.”

Earl Thornberry added: ‘Many buses to outlying locations don’t run at 10pm so people can’t get buses home at night. They therefore rely on affordable parking lots.

“These tariffs could have a very significant and disturbing effect on the night economy and these major institutions. This is a time when they are working hard to reclaim their full audience, especially the Grand. He’s trying to bring back an older audience that has been deterred by the pandemic. »

She requested that the proposed tariffs be restructured. Perhaps a £5 six-hour fare would be an option. Morecambe had a four-hour option, she noted. So there was flexibility in different places.

She underlined: “Different elected officials are involved in this work. Lancaster’s major arts and cultural organizations are very important to the city and the district at large.

Countess Dowding said she understood the concerns. Council officers would be asked to consider additional options for parking hours and fees, as well as options for the cultural sector and overnight.

Officers agreed, but they also said data was used to craft the proposed new time options. Additionally, any new options would need to be consistent with City Council’s budget plans for 2022-23.

Labor councilor Erica Lewis added: “It’s important to look at all of this, given the importance of data and the night economy. But this is perhaps the second time that the consultations with the BID Group and the Chamber of Commerce have not been linked to the needs of the arts and culture sector. There has to be a better way to connect with arts and culture.

Councilors were told that the proposed new changes to parking fees were generally well received at a recent BID meeting.

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