Death of Wrexham Town Centre – Car Parking Charge Increases
October 7, 2019 at 5:20 pm #175170
Some will probably try and park at the hospital carpark, I’ve seen people do it, they park on the footpath and the area reserved for motorcycles and walk in to town. It’s got worse since Morrison’s started the restricted parking.October 7, 2019 at 7:47 pm #175173
Some great points made.
It’s obvious that Car Parking charges put people off coming to Wrexham. The higher the charge, the more the people are put off. Sadly, the debate about charges, which as many argue is a no-brainer, has now been dwarfed by the even bigger idea of Accessibility. People want their attractions to be immediately accessible….and, in the case of shopping, many won’t walk more than a few measly feet to make a purchase. Hence Supermarkets and Out-of-Town developments. Put Accessibility hand in hand with free Car Parking and you have the optimal blend. Do the opposite and you’re toast.
Which leads me on to the idea of skin in the game. Matt (in a great set of observations) argued that “this of course is an absolute no brainer to most with any common sense because as we keep trying to hammer home INCREASED FOOTFALL equals increased economic turnover in town equals increased business viability and regeneration. Therefore, returning an increased level of business rates into Wrexham council’s coffers”. Now whilst I can see why he might argue this point, please bear in mind that WCBC get nothing directly from the Business Rates. Nothing. Indeed, generally, WCBC get nothing from the town’s Retail vibrancy whatsoever except for the now pittance derived from the Markets and Ty Pawb. The only thing that WCBC get from a full town is the satisfaction that their approach to its success is working.
The idea that the success of the town might persuade various Councillors to adopt Retail friendly policies is an interesting one. What if some Councillors simply didn’t give a stuff? Is that likely? I doubt it…..but what does strike me….and a former Council Leader confirmed it for me…..when it comes to a choice between having a punt at higher income to fund services set against the state of play of the Retail sector…..they would take the income every time. After all, many of them use that Income in their Villages or on pet projects. The presumption that such people make is that higher charges may see marginal drops in Car Park usage but such drops will be compensated for by the higher parking rates being paid in WCBC Car Parks.
I would ask the Councillors to collectively think again. They brought the Manchester Metropolitan University into Wrexham to attempt to revive the High Street. One of the top factor areas is Car Parking and Access. Think againOctober 7, 2019 at 8:15 pm #175177
The business rate element of properties as Alun has pointed out does not go direct to Council – what would however go direct to Council would be any rates collected for apartments etc would stay locally- how many new properties need be opened as flats to cover the car park rise.
How much rates from Henblas Street appartments will be generated- have the Council taken all of this into accountOctober 7, 2019 at 8:43 pm #175189
Good post Alun, it was my understanding that a percentage of business rates comes back to the council, but what I didn’t fully appreciate was that it has squat to do with the amount of money paid in locally but more to do with the population of a town/area.
This seems like something technically flawed and unfortunately on our local level it is unlikely we would have an ant pissing in the wind’s chance of changing how things are done down in Cardiff in the Welsh Government.
On a hypothetical level it means that in order to have maximum revenue coming into the coffers in Wrexham to spend on services – the council’s Executive can actually play a game that favours Wrexham becoming a commuter town entirely. Because as far as they are concerned as long as developers are adding houses/apartments (and population) to the area it doesn’t matter if Wrexham’s entire retail offering dies a death. In fact it means more space for housing in the middle of town. This is actually incredibly poor for the overall well-being of the town and surrounding villages and rural areas, but they could feasibly get away with it.
They can just continue to approve prime developer land and add in affluent (non affordable) housing and get wealthy commuters from England to buy a house hundreds of thousands cheaper than in the likes of Cheshire and say “Hey guys you can get to Chester, Liverpool, Manchester etc… on the A483 to your job, send your kids to schools in England across the border – look guys cheap houses”. That just leaves the rest of us poor buggers who have been living here most or all of our lives, we can’t afford these shiny new houses, we can’t get on the waiting list for council or social housing either. Don’t worry there’s enough of us paying council tax though so it doesn’t matter that there’s bugger all to do in our once proud town.
You have to ask if there is anyone on the Executive Board who has any sense of pride or legacy about regenerating the town? Pulling in cash is one thing, but imagine if someone had the actual ambition to be Retail friendly and therefore perhaps make Wrexham better than just being little Chester. All I know is there are other larger towns in the UK that didn’t expand to what they are today by becoming a giant housing estate for the bigger cities. They have a bit about themselves as a standalone identity. I think it’s something we once had here but are now sadly losing.
Making somewhere a decent place to shop and live would pull in population too (at a slower pace), but it seems like it’s not the easy option, so they’ll always opt out.October 9, 2019 at 3:35 am #175273
Ioan y FfinParticipant
Most of the organizations you have named bring zero financial benefit to the town’s economy. The income they make leaves the area instantly and they employ no local people.
A better logic might be to offer free parking – not at times when everyone is busy but actually when the town is quieter. Surely it is then when you need to encourage additional footfall not at peak times.
I have gone to special events in Liverpool, Llangollen and Chester and cant recall any free parking and all the events have been successful. It is the power of the attraction that is key not the cost of parking.
I am not dividing people however it is the case that there are two groups who pay for publicly owned car parks: those who use them and also those who don’t use them but pay via council tax. Free parking shifts all the cost onto the latter group and that cannot be fair.October 9, 2019 at 10:43 am #175274
I can’t quite work out the rationale behind a couple of the points that you are making Ioan, but perhaps I have missed something in the discussion.
When you mention “organizations” bringing zero financial benefit to the town’s economies and that the “income they make leaves the area instantly and they employ no local people” can’t be about Wrexham’s shops. Obviously, these are major employers of local people and provide immense value to the local population in terms of goods and services made available in the immediate vicinity.
You move on to the idea of events being organised across the country, in the big cities, etc and you mention that they don’t have any free parking but are successful. If your point is that free parking isn’t the issue but the offer, that just doesn’t stand scrutiny for a small town like Wrexham. It’s obviously the case that if a town or city can put on a big event (Bruce Springsteen in Concert, Everton vs Liverpool, etc) that Car Parking charges are neither here nor there. Demand for such an offer will trump the charges. Unfortunately, small towns can’t compete on the offer and have to entice the consumer. Free Parking is one method.
On the trade-off between the Rate Payer, and the Car Park payer, I take your point. I wouldn’t go down the road of making Car Parking free but I would make it more intelligent and put Access at the top of the priority list. For example…..I would charge all Car Parkers the top Rate in the morning before 10.00 because they are the work force. In turn, I would charge a relatively lower figure thereafter because they are the Shoppers and Tourists. Lastly, I would place charges within the town centre because I would open up the town centre and place charge meters thereinOctober 9, 2019 at 12:19 pm #175276
Car parking charges would not have needed to be considered to increase if WCBC had not given the revenue from the Peoples Market car park to Ty Pawb.October 11, 2019 at 10:38 pm #175413
Town centres are dead – and no amount of public money poured into them will bring them back to life.
It’s not just shops that have gone; it’s all the other things that we used to go into town for as well. Going to the bank, paying the electric bill, paying the gas bill, paying the council tax, going to the insurance office, going to the post office….All these have become online functions and have been sold to us as “convenient” and “modern”. And we’ve all fallen for theme.
So don’t shout at the council. We’re all complicit in the demise of the town centre.October 14, 2019 at 11:09 am #175491
A stupid question I know but will the increase in parking charges also effect the councillors and council staff paying their cheap parking rate at the moment or will they be put in a special catagory due to the fact that it would be a further financial burden for them
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