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Should parking in Liverpool city centre be free or a cheap flat fee on Sundays and bank hols?

City centre is cleaner, but not greener and hungry parking meters are still fuelling widespread discontent. What do you say?

Published on October 26th 2010.

LIVERPOOL city centre is no longer a “festival of litter”. Indeed it is seen as a clean, safe and vibrant area with better shops than Manchester and the Trafford Centre.

However, according to this week's latest researc,. there aren't enough green spaces – a concrete fact – and the level of parking charges, compared with other cities, is still bothering more than half of people.

The Liverpool City Centre Perceptions Survey for 2010 found that:

- Eight out of 10 people believe the city centre has improved in the last year and nine out of 10 are confident about its future. The same number also give a positive rating to the city centre shops and rate it better than Manchester city centre, the Trafford Centre and other locations in the region as a retail centre.

- 99 per cent of all people interviewed feel safe in the city centre during the day; 70 per cent feel safe in the evening.

- The number who said they felt safe at night was 44 per cent, this was an increase of 19 per cent on the previous year.

A total of 1,623 people were interviewed including both city centre residents and visitors. They were asked about a range of issues including cleanliness, shopping, crime, public transport and the environment.

Views about how clean the city centre is have risen markedly. From Bill Bryson's damning but richly deserved observation that the city appeared to be staging a “Festival of Litter”, in his 1995 book, Notes from A Small Island, now 81 per cent of people surveyed have given a positive rating to its cleanliness. And while Bryson's original indictment may have been in the dim and distant past, even in 2007, its rating was only 35 per cent.

The survey found that people interviewed wanted more green spaces and landscaping in the centre with the number being satisfied with this aspect falling by 21 per cent in a year.

This has never been great in a windy city centre like ours. There are none of the leafy squares common to others, and St John's Gardens is on the periphery. The city lost a massive chunk of Chavasse Park when Liverpool One was completed, although whether droves of the populace fully utilised it as a green amenity, when it was there, is open for debate.

Councillor Joe Anderson, City Council Leader said: "There are areas of concern which we will have to address including looking at cost-effective ways of making the centre greener and highlight hidden gems and existing high quality green space in the city centre.”

Manwhile, the other concern, the one that got us and 57 per cent of surveyed people thinking (and with perhaps a more palpable solution), was over the level of parking charges compared with other cities. Although this is not elaborated on much by the council in its findings, on-the-street parking is free on Sundays and Bank Holidays in Manchester and Leeds centres, but full whack seven days a week here. That's £2 an hour in the inner zone for a maximum of two hours.

It's a widespread gripe. One very senior councillor told Liverpool Confidential, during our parking-fees campaign (click here) in February last year, that they and their family always choose to get in the car and go up the motorway to shop at the (free parking) Trafford Centre, rather than their own city, for that very reason.

There was even talk by the Labour group, then in opposition, of scrapping weekend parking fees or disccounting them heavily, if they got into power.

So what do you think? Has the time come? If Liverpool city centre parking was free or a cheap flat fee on Sunday and Bank Holidays, would you be more likely to spend your hard earned money in shops here?

Should we stop moaning and get the bus in? Or should we keep Sunday special, get out of town and motor somewhere where it's freer (and greener) and preferably with tweety birds, a roaring log fire and a roast dinner.

Leave your comments on any of the above, below, and cast a vote on the homepage!

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