Parking revenue hit by weather but visitors flock to free events including the Blackpool Air Show

Parking revenue has remained stable
Parking revenue has remained stable

Income has also been affected by parking spaces being lost to make way for regeneration projects including new civil service offices.

However the town’s free events such as the Air Show, Christmas by the Sea and extending the Illuminations until December have ensured parking revenue remains stable with increased charges also boosting income.

Crowds at this year's Air Show
Crowds at this year's Air Show

Meanwhile a new multi storey car park with 1,300 spaces being built on part of Central Car Park will open until early next year, having initially expected to open this summer.

The latest figures released by Blackpool Council show overall car park patronage was down by around 13,000 in 2022/23 compared to the previous year.

However on-street parking increased by 9,000 users over the same period with events including the extension of the Illuminations season and Christmas by the Sea driving custom.

Despite dips in demand, revenue has increased slightly partly due to increased charges introduced in May 2022.

Income generated from car parks in the financial year 2022/23 is nearly £6m, which is an increase of £347,000 on the previous year. Revenue from on street parking in 2022/23 was just under £1m, an increase of £134,000.

However this falls below the £900,000 of extra revenue the council hoped to generate by increasing charges.

A report to a meeting of the Climate Change and Environment Scrutiny Committee on September 27 says income from this year’s tourist season is marginally ahead of last year despite pressures from bad weather and cost of living.

Parking – which is seen as a barometer for visitor numbers – was busy in May but fell off in June and July “when a prolonged spell of poor weather coincided with the start of the school summer holidays.”

The report adds: “This poor weather, coupled with a continuing pressure on family finances through cost-of-living increases and high fuel prices, clearly had a dampening effect on visitor numbers and, in turn, car park usage.”

However August saw improvements as the weather picked up and Blackpool held a number of key events such as the Air Show which saw footfall on the Promenade of 350,000 over two days.

The report says: “It is worth noting that these large-scale free events continue to drive high volumes of car park usage.”