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The Vote

Free weekend street parking in the city centre starting Friday afternoon?

Published on June 12th 2009.

The Vote

Saturday seemed quiet in Manchester last week. It’d seemed quiet the week before. Before noon on both days it was a ghost town.

Storekeepers, shopkeepers, pubs and bars all say that Saturdays are too quiet. For many of course this should be their biggest trading day.

The lack of business may be caused by several things, not least the economic downturn and changing lifestyles, but there’s something else that’s staring us in the face.

At Confidential we’ve harped on about this before but we think that the car parking regime in the city is compounding the problem.

The fact that high charges are levied with on-street parking puts people off, keeps them out of the city and the shops, the theatres and the bars. It thus impacts on their profits, puts their businesses under strain and contributes to the alarming number of empty units across the city centre.

We think that all on-street parking should be free from 3pm on Friday until 8am on Monday. Sunday is already free as is the time after 6pm.

But we think that by encouraging people to come into the city on late Friday afternoons to park up for leisure, shopping or business makes sense. The case for free on-street car parking on Saturday is clearer and may bring more people in earlier. It would help during the rest of the day as well. These measures would make Manchester appear more user-friendly and would reassure and bring confidence to city centre retailers and caterers.

Lost revenues for the city should be offset against these benefits. At the same time savings could be made by reducing the number of traffic wardens out and about. Actually forget that, let’s cut the traffic wardens and pay for more police foot patrols around the city instead.

Also the parking should be on a first come first served basis. If you get there at 9am on a Saturday then you can stay all day. Not many people would, but this simple to understand system means that people may stay longer and spend more.

It might encourage more high-end buyers in as well. It’s a simple fact that our public transport into the city can be shoddy in the extreme, the trains to Rochdale and Oldham, for instance, are unkempt, ramshackle, and way past their sell buy date.

At the same we could do something else in the city centre and that’s increase the capacity for weekend parking. We should free up lots of streets from the tyranny of double-yellow lines. We’d have to balance this with making sure traffic can still circulate, but there are hordes of streets which could be de-yellowed. We’ve a picture here of Dale Street in the Northern Quarter which could easily - along one side - be freed up. The Northern Quarter is particularly blighted by needless yellows.

Truth is that the city centre has to be able to compete and conquer threats from the Trafford Centre and Cheadle Royal on weekends. They have that alluring free car parking. The city centre should declare itself liberated too

As for the Green argument that we need to encourage people out of cars at all cost. We don’t buy it. There are macro-governmental decisions which could be made to alleviate this in much better ways. And we have to be selfish here, in a very minor way, and make sure that the city we live in has the best chance of flourishing.

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34 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

NeilJune 12th 2009.

Agree with you to an extent. The problem is the number of people who now live in the city centre who own cars and park them elsewhere. They would bring them in on a Friday and then leave them. You already see this on Saturday afternoons. There is very little 'turnover' of spaces on a Saturday evening or all-day Sunday(try walking around at 3.00am and notice that practically 95% of all spaces are still taken).

CastlefieldJune 12th 2009.

I don't agree on this, Neil's correct you would just get people using it as their second weekend parking space and many would simply be full the whole time. My balconies overlook Liverpool Road and even in the middle of the night the spaces are all taken up with the usual cars meaning it's probably residents. I fail to see the thinking behind attracting high-end shoppers as if they're really high end they won't give a toss about the fiver or tenner to park at Kendals. Perhaps a time limit would help if there was free parking. Events are what bring people and revenue into the city, the recent examples of Bolt and Oasis proving the case. The Christmas market is another prime example of this. More events please.

Burt CodeineJune 12th 2009.

St. Mary's parsonage is now fully 'double yellowed' as of last week - another street taken out for parking purposes (not sure whether this is due to the works along Deansgate mind). The situation is currently made worse by the fact that the roads are being dug up for both water pipe renewals and tram track replacements. It takes an absolute age to get in town at the moment, either by car or bus (yup...those filthy things, which I don't mind getting on my own but far less likely to with my family). Add to that NCP have whacked up their prices 'godknowshowmanyfold' and, sadly, a day out in the city over the weekend is looking less enticing by the day.

Tom KJune 12th 2009.

Fridays are the busiest days... This would cause traffic chaos. Investing in some good park and ride schemes might make more sense. Also... That picture of Dale St -- that's a really busy route. And those double yellows are on a bus lane, no?

Tracy LJune 12th 2009.

No they are not on a bus lane that's on the other side of the road. And this is a problem, you don't need a bus lane on Dale Street but put one in and you narrow the road. Freeing up the roads is a great idea and no there won't traffic chaos although it might be busier. Have people in Manchester who complain about busy streets ever been to London let alone Madrid or Istanbul or so on. We don't have a the beginnings of a traffic problem compared to them.

CastlefieldJune 12th 2009.

Been to Madrid and London but if you want to see traffic, try Naples. However none of these places encourage on road parking, London is full of bus lanes. Bus lanes are there to enable public transport vehicles to get around quicker druing busy times, most have time limits. Having been to Madrid you'll know that they, like many other European cities, have numerous snazzy underground car parks where those ugly little cars are hidden away. However most people still use public transport in these European cities and most, including Istanbul and Madrid have bus lanes, in fact a lot more than we do! So I'm struggling to see your point.

DidsburyGirlJune 12th 2009.

My housemates both have cars, and always use them to get into town at the weekends, which I dont always understand when it is cheaper and faster on the bus. I think making it free will only bring more traffic into the centre (Which I agree is not as congested as other cities) Why not focus on cheaper and more reliable public transport rather than an increase in the number of cars. And yes town is quiet on a Saturday morning - but get there in the afternoon and its difficult to walk down Market Street at more than a snails pace as its so packed.

Parking boreJune 12th 2009.

Just wanted to point out that you couldn't just replace traffic wardens with police. The traffic wardens (or rather parking attendents) have nothing to do with the police as they are sub-contracted council employees. Also, "illegal" parking has nothing to do with the cops either, as parking was decriminalised in Manchester years ago. That means it isn't illegal to park on a double yellow line, but is a civil offence for which the council can sue you.

M30June 12th 2009.

Have I stumbed upon a very old article? There hasn't been trains to Bury since the late 80s as I recall, it was replaced with the Metrolink. There's a tram from Bury via Prestwich into Manchester every six minutes. Encouraging people to bring their cars would be a disaster considering six months ago we were debating a congestion charge. There are far too many cars in the city centre as it is. Why anyone living and working in the city centre require a car in the first place beggars belief. Mancunians already have the selfish belief that its their right to drive from their home and park outside their place of work, something which would be unthinkable in a city such as Rotterdam or Düsseldorf. EDITORIAL: We meant Oldham, changed now, oops.

AnonymousJune 12th 2009.

As alluded to above, making the spaces free at weekends will just lead to city centre residents dumping their cars on Friday then leaving them there till they drive to work again on the Monday.I live in the centre and have a car. I've got a cheap permit to park it in a multi-storey about a mile away from the flat but when I do choose to park in the bays around thomas st/high st, there's always a scrum around 6pm to get a spot. This is especially true on saturdays as there is then no cause to move it until monday morning.

mJune 12th 2009.

This is quite some change of stance from that taken on the congestion charge debate and quite simply this is a bad idea. Yellow lines are generally there for a reason and those who know the ins and out of the city centre parking bays tend not to be your average Trafford Centre visitor but rather your average city centre resident. Few of the fair weather visitors you talk of attracting would dream of traversing narrow, unfamiliar alleys and circling one way systems in a vain attempt of finding a free space. They just head to their usual car park.

Ben, SalfordJune 12th 2009.

I've lived in and around Manchester for 14 years. In that time I've watched the council double yellow virtually the entire city, turn parking bays into loading areas, disabled bays or just get rid of them, whilst reversing the free after lunch on Saturday parking. It's meant I have started shopping at that vile temple of consumerism, the Trafford Centre, rather than going to where I love, the city centre, because I can't park on the street, or on a single yellow any more. It seems to me that despite what the council say, they are in cahoots with NCP, who now have an overpriced car park on virtually every corner. What amazes me is that it's taken this long for the shop keepers and businesses this long to wake and smell the coffee. This is the best idea I've heard for years... If only they would do it.

NCP DiddyJune 12th 2009.

I work out of the city centrs but I live in it and have done for a while. I pay a fortune for a parking space, if the bays were free then of course I would take advantage of parking on the street...why shouldn't I? I pay my road and council tax so I've as much right to park there as someone coming in from the 'burbs. It's annoying that people are saying that "spaces will be taken up by residents".....The back streets around Little Peter Street become the car park for the locks, however the council have single yellowed both sides of some of the narrowest streets so when all those ridiculous chav Chelsea Tractors double park the streets are virtually blocked! The council need to re-evaluate what needs double yellows.Parking meters in London are free on a Saturday!!

angus mcrJune 12th 2009.

How about half price parking on parking meters Friday after noon and staurday or a pound an hour, with a 2 hour limit, cheaper parking with a good turn over of people.And why is parking on the street so expensive any way?

johnthebriefJune 12th 2009.

Nice idea but the council will never buy it. They see parking as a revenue issue, nothing more. Wider commercial benefits for the city? Forgeddabout it. That's why they are steadily removing all on-street parking to drive everyone into the rapacious arms of their friends at NCP. These are the people remember who tried to introduce charges for parking on Sundays and until 8pm, until public uproar frightened them off. It's policy, and as long as that prize aresole Swannick remains in charge there won't be any change.

johnthebriefJune 12th 2009.

PS - what are the odds that thebulk of our congestion problem (such as it is) is caused by people driving round in circles looking for somewhere to park? There won't be any study though - it might come up with the wrong answer, and we couldn't have that could we?

mJune 12th 2009.

Charles Street car park is £2 for the whole day on Saturday. It's a bit out but walk to Piccadilly station and get the free city centre shuttle. The MEN car park is £2 for the day on Sunday. Where's the parking problem?

secret squirrelJune 12th 2009.

Just to add to the above, there are three free shuttle routes on the buses, very frequent service.www.gmpte.com/content.cfm?subcategory_id=370432…

molsterJune 12th 2009.

I think town, particularly around market street etc... is too busy on a weekend anyway. Less people please, so I can stroll around peacefully. It puts me off shopping in town, and I live in town! I'm amazed you think town is (too) quiet!

Bill CobbettJune 12th 2009.

Nah - take their cars away.

Tom KJune 12th 2009.

It must be a nightmare living in the Northern Quarter and having to park a car nearby (and very expensive to buy a dedicated space). I got rid of my car and just use WhizzGo cars when I need them. Just pay a few quid an hour for the car then, rather than paying for it to be sitting there doing nothing!

scoteeeJune 12th 2009.

The problem I find with the parking is that the ncp carparks are so ridiculous in price.People who want to spend the day here will need to part with 17 quid .Thats £340 per month to park in the centre if you want to work here.Are there no council run car parks in the centre? and if so shouldnt they be cheaper and get the cars off the streets?

scoteeeJune 12th 2009.

whats hilarious is that prime office locations in the centre of manchester are going for £11psft.If you assume that 100 sft is the average space for a car then that represents £1100 per year for that amount of space.so i could park my car in an office for £92.00 a month....I know what my next business venture will be!anyone got any ground floor units to let in the centre? not bothered what they look like:@)

DescartesJune 12th 2009.

There's one or two down Market St scottee

AnonymousJune 12th 2009.

If the council don't do something to make the buses and trams cheaper (more expensive than London + many other major cities that I could mention!) then its unfair that they also force us to use public transport by making motorists lives more and more difficult! De-privatise the buses for starters!!!!

AnonymousJune 12th 2009.

Quite in Manchester on the last two weekends??.... I didn't notice it.... in the afternoon at least. The Arndale seemed as crowded as usual 30/5 7/6 and Market Street was packed at least in the afternoon even though they were digging up Oxford Street and Deansgate, and several other place too. Sunday is free parking of course and I didn't notice any spaces around were I walked after 2pm. No one comes in before 12 anyway. Trafford Centre is built for the car and the public transport facilities are poor (try finding the bus stops?) There was talk of charging there too some time ago. Peel never paid up for the tram

Logical guyJune 12th 2009.

Never mind parking, look what this Council has done for business by allowing the digging up and closing roads all over during the best sales period and at the height of tourism. This is why we need to replace the council tax with a sales tax like in the US - business is hit so is the council income, so they do every thing to help businesses to bring income.

AnonymousJune 12th 2009.

In my utopian view..... The park and ride system should be much improved along with the trams, and everywhere within the Mancunian way should become a pedestrian zone outside of rush hour. We also need to put grass on Albert Square, nice big garden would be much better than Markets.

Carl AustinJune 12th 2009.

I would like to see Deansgate made pedestrianised between The Trinity Way Junction and Then the junction at Whitworth Street /Deansgate Station with only Bussed & Black Cabs allowed - Like Oxford Street in London, this way all the flowing traffic would have to use the ring road that was built to carry all the vehicles that clog up the City Centre - I hope somebody is monitoring the traffic flow at the moment as people have been forced off Deansgate due to the maintenance work taking place.

LouiseJune 12th 2009.

I live in the city and parking is a problem. If I didn't need a car for work I wouldn't have one. I resent people complaining about residents using free spaces, we get nothing else out of MCC and are currently, with all the road works and diversions, putting up with a lot. The residents parking scheme introduced by MCC is a start but, it needs to offer more cover. Perhaps, like Bristol they should offer 100% residents only parking areas. Also like Bristol, decent and reliable park and ride schemes to get shoppers/workers in and out of the city.

HowardJune 12th 2009.

And another thing! Whilst they are digging up the roads, closing streets and the like why can't they make some adjustment to the traffic lights? Why do the traffic lights at Mosley St/Princess St still stop you dead for 2 mins even though there is no cross traffic? Not the only example either.

Jack FoleyJune 12th 2009.

I think 'anon' will find that the bus stops at the Trafford Centre are all in the bus station, at the Debenhams end. Not really difficult to find.

TommyGunJune 12th 2009.

Are you crazy? The city is full of cars already! We need to discourage people from bringing their cars into the centre!We already missed a glorious opportunity with the shambles they called 'congestion charging'. Where they should have started with just the city centre, within the central ring road. But no, they had to be greedy (greed, pure and simple) and tried to cobble together some nonsense; discecting various boroughs of Greater Manchester in a ridiculous fashion, that was doomed to failure under a vote.Muppets.

TommyGunJune 12th 2009.

- Traffic Light Delays: Muppets,- Lack of Resdient Parking: Muppets,- MCC: Muppets,- Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy...: Muppets.Several areas of the city centre could be pedestrianised, beginning with the Thomas St. in the Northern Quarter. Then parts of Deansgate, say Bridge St. to Blackfirars Rd. Will it ever happen... only when we get rid of the Muppets.

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