Not ‘app-y’ – Ashton town centre businesses hit back at new parking scheme
Thursday 22nd November 2018 @ 13:28 by Lee Wild
Ashton Business News

Town centre business owners are up in arms after the introduction of a new system for on-street parking.

Parts of Ashton town centre, including Stamford Street Central, now require the use of a mobile phone app to park on the street for any length of time. On-street parking is free for 30 minutes but must still be ‘logged’ with the app to avoid a ticket.

The plans were first introduced two and a half years ago and were met with stiff opposition by local people. They argued that the decision would kill access to the town centre and reduce footfall to businesses. In June 2016 those plans were defeated narrowly by a 5-4 vote at a Speakers Planning Panel at Dukinfield Town Hall.

However just one year later in April 2017, notices appeared on lampposts around the town again informing locals that exactly the same plans were set to be debated again. Once again locals rallied against the plans but this time weren’t able to make the council listen. At Guardsman Tony Downes House on 9 October 2017 the plans passed with a vote of four to one. Councillors Barrie Holland (Droylsden West), John Taylor (Dukinfield), Bill Fairfoull (Ashton St Michael’s) and chair Kieran Quinn (Droylsden East) all voted for the plans, whilst Doreen Dickinson (Stalybridge South) voted against them.

The new charges were introduced this week costing £1 per hour with the maximum of a two hour stay. However both business owners and shoppers are outraged by the plans saying the smartphone-only payment system excludes many from parking on the roads. The app requires the use of a smartphone app and takes payment via credit or debit card, no cash alternative is provided.

Chris Grundy from Sofa Superstore on Stamford Street says that the system is going to be impossible to user for the older generations: “They’re ruining Stamford Street. For a starter, the older end don’t use Whatsapp and all the rest of it. Its just stupid, they haven’t thought about it, or consulted the traders or the public. The sooner it is they forget it the better it is for the town. People will just go and park in the retail parks and shop there.”

Tony James of Tameside Beds & Mattresses has battled against the plans from the first iteration and is angered by the way that the council have implemented it: “In the beginning they had a meeting with all the tenants, and we strongly objected to it and we won, so that was it, it was supposed to be over. And then all of a sudden they go and do it without any consultation, without asking anybody.

“Since they’ve implemented it, my business has dropped by 20%, and I expect it to drop by at least 50-60%.

“Every customer that comes in has to run in and run out. And if they’ve not got a proper phone that they can use to park there then they don’t park there. 9/10 customers that come in here turn around and say “Why come to Ashton shopping and pay all this money when we can go to Oldham all day every day and pay nothing.”

“They’ve done it without no consultation and it shouldn’t have even been allowed. We should have been asked to make comments before they did it. But instead they did it behind all our backs so we couldn’t complain, and we couldn’t go against the council so really it should be turned over.

“If you canvas the whole of Ashton, you’d get exactly the same opinion from everybody else, that the business is dropping, and these councillors, whoever’s implemented that is driving business out of Tameside down to Oldham.”

The on-street bays make up around seven percent of the towns current parking provision and the council previously said that the move will push people to use the off-street car parks, which they say are amongst the cheapest in Greater Manchester.