Parking charges would mean a £500,000 improvements windfall

Worden Park, Leyland
Worden Park, Leyland

Motorists could generate £500,000 worth of new park improvements for visitors.

That’s the view of South Ribble Council bosses as parking charges are proposed at two borough parks.

The move, put forward in the council’s 2016/17 budget proposals, would see motorists visiting Worden Park, Leyland and Withy Grove Park, Bamber Bridge charged £1 to park all day.

All the cash raised by the scheme would be ploughed back into the parks, to help pay for improvements, including:

• Building two brand new toilet blocks at Worden Park, costing £130,000.

• An extension to Worden’s overflow car park, creating an extra 128 parking spaces, costing £130,000.

• A £250,000 investment to bring Withy Grove Park up to the standard required to receive a prestigious Green Flag Award, including re-landscaping the park, new footpaths, new bins, benches, signs and a the creation of a central hub featuring a sculpture.

If agreed by councillors at a full council meeting on March 2, the scheme would come into force on June 1 and would bring in around £80,000 per year.

Pay and display machines would be installed, and there would also be a cashless option to pay using a smart phone.

Residents would be able to buy an annual permit, offering a saving for regular park users. Charging would be from 10am to 4pm, meaning early morning and evening dog walkers would not be affected.

Warren Bennett, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “We know that our residents love our fantastic parks and open spaces – they are one of the things the borough is celebrated for and the council is determined to keep investing.

“Last year we ploughed £700,000 into improving our parks and we have even bigger plans for this year. We want to bring Withy Grove up to the standard required to achieve a Green Flag Award, which is the national standard for excellence. We also want to build two brand new toilet blocks at Worden Park and extend the car park further, to offer another 128 spaces. As part of the plans we will also be looking at improving and investing in other car parks around the borough.

“Unfortunately all of these exciting plans come at a price. Everybody knows that times are hard and councils up and down the country are tightening their belts and looking to save money. At South Ribble we are faring better than most, but we still need to make sure we can balance the budget whilst offering continuous improvement.

“Withy Grove and Worden Park have some of the best playgrounds in the whole of the North West, with families travelling from miles around to visit our facilities. By introducing a small parking charge we can make the most of the popularity of our parks and ensure users from outside the borough are making a contribution to the facilities they are using.”

“The new charges form part of our budget proposals, which are currently under consultation. We want residents to tell us what they think – and we would ask them to get on board and help ensure we can keep South Ribble’s parks great.”

Visit www.southribble.gov.uk/budget to have your say on the proposed parking charges, as well as other plans within the council’s 2016/17 budget proposals.