The changes were announced by the authority’s Conservative leader Geoff Driver, but it seems Clitheroe is among the towns on the list to be withdrawn as a potential site after huge opposition from concerned local residents, traders and councillors.
However, the borough’s Liberal Democrat leader, Coun. Allan Knox, who organised a petition against the plans, claims the U-turn is just a “spin” in the run-up to the elections by the Tory-run County Hall.
Lancashire County Council outlined plans to extend roadside charges as part of its budget proposals in December. It was proposed 53 pay-and-display machines would be installed in town centres with Whalley, Clitheroe, Colne, Nelson, Longridge, Burnley, Padiham and Great Harwood on the list of possible locations.
The scheme provoked strong opposition which has led to Pendle being exempt from the charges. Last month the Clitheroe Advertiser revealed no pay and display machines will be installed in Whalley after furious traders and villagers raised concerns. It seems a similar decision will be made for Clitheroe too.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson said: “The scheme was proposed to allow the free flow of traffic in congested areas. You can never say never, but I am quite sure parking meters won’t be installed in the Ribble Valley as there isn’t a major problem of traffic congestion in town centres.”
Deputy leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Coun. Rupert Swarbrick, said: “If indeed the County Council doesn’t intend to levy car parking charges in Clitheroe and Whalley it is great news and credit must go to our county councillors for listening and acting on our vociferous lobbying.
“Short stay free parking is essential to the vibrancy of a thriving town centre and the introduction of charges would have been counter to the borough council’s deliberate policy to encourage economic prosperity.”
Coun. Knox seems to disagree. He said: “Coun. Atkinson and his Tory colleagues at County Hall are trying to rewrite history about their plans for kerbside parking charges in Clitheroe.
“Their cabinet agreed a document that included charging in Clitheroe, on December 3rd. On the cover of the document it says ‘No consultation required’. The minutes state that this will form the basis of the county council’s budget.
“When the budget was debated at Full Council, Coun. Atkinson made two extraordinary claims – the first was that the parking charges would be subject to consultation and the second that no one was concerned about it – well I can personally introduce him to hundreds of residents, who were so concerned that they signed our petition.
“The budget was passed with parking charges included. So, unless Full Council at Lancashire County Council or Cabinet decides otherwise, Tory parking charges are coming. Anything else is just spin in the run up to an election.”