Wirral Council is moving forward with its plans to shake up parking in Wirral.
The local authority is currently in the second stage of getting public feedback on its plans. These could include introducing new parking restrictions, measures to tackle bad parking, and fluctuating prices for car parks at peak times.
Another proposal is introducing a shared e-bike or scooter scheme similar to the Voi scooter scheme in Liverpool. These are proposed in six areas including at the Seacombe Ferry Terminal, Victoria Road in New Brighton, Woodside, central Birkenhead, and one corner of Birkenhead Park.
The different measures brought in by the council, including charges for workplace car parks, could generate up to £15.4m a year if they are rolled fully across three stages. The strategy is also expected to contribute to efforts to tackle climate change by reducing the number of journeys by car in Wirral.
While the strategy is looking to encourage people travel by means other than cars, a report by consultancy firm Royal HaskoningDHV said, “It is recognised that some people have no alternative but to use a car. The parking strategy should not be anti-car but must have regard to all road users and will look to best practice and guidance to ensure all road users are appropriately considered.”
The proposals could also see a number of underused car parks closed to increase the usage at others. For example, three car parks in Birkenhead at Hamilton Building, Exmouth Street, and Atherton Street could be closed with people directed towards Barton Street car park.
In Heswall, car parks at Mount Avenue and Rocky Lane could be closed with people directed towards Pye Road. Closed car parks could then be used for future development.
On and off street parking in West Kirby, New Brighton, and Liscard will also be considered in the council’s development plans for those areas.
Commenting on the strategy, Wirral’s environment committee chair Cllr Liz Grey said, “It’s such a habit for us to get into our cars we forget we could walk, we could cycle, we could bus and these things have to go hand in hand. We can’t make one more difficult whilst not making one more acceptable and more attractive.”
She added, “I do think it always seems to go back to communications and getting the clear message across about how important it is we do things but also the benefits. People are not seeing the benefits of what we are trying to do.”
However, councillor Allan Brame said the local authority has “certainly got a battle to convince people they do want to pay parking charges.” 60% of people disagreed with car parking charges in a 2022 consultation.
In feedback given in 2022, people raised concerns the new charges would keep people away from town and tourist areas but also make smaller streets busier. However, Royal HaskoningDHV said evidence showed this would not be the case.
The report said, “Before and after surveys often show increased commercial turnover as parking charges encourage more parking turnover and hence more footfall through an area. The result is that demand management encourages more spending, not less.
“Feedback and research have also shown that traders overestimate the amount of income from car users and underestimate the financial impacts of car parking management. This is because more car parking does not automatically mean greater commercial success.”
It is also proposed public space protection orders could be introduced around schools to stop people parking on the kerb and better enforce current parking rules. Coach parking has also been proposed at Port Sunlight, Woodside, New Brighton, and West Kirby.
After the current round of public feedback, the results will then be brought back to Wirral Council’s environment committee in December. The consultation ends on 25 September.