FURTHER changes will be made to combat congestion on a leisure centre car park.

A three-hour time limit will be placed on Darwen Leisure Centre’s car park from June 4 in an attempt to deter shoppers from taking advantage of the leisure centre’s free parking and walking into town.

A spokesman for Darwen Leisure Centre said said the limit was brought in after monitoring of the car park revealed a ‘constant flow’ of non-centre users were parking on the site.

She said: “Darwen Leisure Centre is making parking fairer for our customers.

“Parking at the centre will become limited to a three-hour maximum stay.

“After monitoring over recent months we are aware that there is a small but constant flow of non-centre users parking there, sometimes for extended periods.

“This makes the car park more congested for those actually using the leisure centre and we hope this change improves the parking for our customers.”

A number plate recognition system was installed in December which allowed cars to park for an hour.

However those wanting to stay longer at the centre were forced to park on the neighbouring Darwen Healthcare car park, making it difficult for health care users to park.

Darwen Town Council Mayor Roy Davies said he had ‘mixed feelings’ about the change and fears it may be part of a bigger plan to introduce paid parking on every car park in Darwen.

He said: “In some ways it’s good, because it might stop people parking there who aren’t using the leisure centre.

“I think three hours should be reasonable enough but I suppose there might be other people who want to spend longer in the centre.

“I’m just worried that they seem to be driving people to use the paid car parks and I’m wondering if this is part of an underlying plan to implement paid parking on every car park in the town and they are introducing it slowly.”

Cllr Davies said he was concerned that people would be forced to park on the streets rather than a paid car park which would make parking a ‘nightmare’ for residents.

He said: “We already have a problem on the streets near the railway station. Commuters are parking outside people’s houses rather than pay to park on the train station and it’s a nightmare for residents.”