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Controversial parking charge plans for Blue Badge holders and country park visitors up for special debate this week

Controversial proposals to introduce parking charges at country parks and for Blue Badge visiting the town centre will be debated by councillors this week in a special meeting.

Members of the Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee will consider on Wednesday whether the proposed charges should go back to the Executive Board for reconsideration.

In January the nine members of the Executive Board who were present, unanimously voted in favour of introducing charges for parking in three of Wrexham’s country parks and for Blue Badge holders in the town centre.

The proposals had featured as part of Wrexham Council’s Difficult Decisions budget consultation and had been described as being “well received” by the public.

Currently Blue Badge holders can park for free in council-operated car parks in Wrexham. However a report presented to the board this morning propose that disabled parking charges are brought “in line with non-disabled tariffs across all Wrexham County Borough Council-operated car parks where charges apply.”

A concessionary extra hour would also be available for Blue Badge holders. For example, those paying for a three-hour stay would be able to park for four hours.

A £1 a day parking fee at Alyn Waters (Llay and Gwersyllt), Ty Mawr and Nant Mill has also been proposed as part of the new parking charges. A concessionary annual parking permit of £50.00 which could be used across the three sites, would also be introduced.

A statutory notice consultation was due to be published in ‘the press’ – believed to be The Leader – before the changes were introduced at the start of April.

However at the end of January a notice of call-in objecting to the Executive Board’s decision was submitted by councillors from the Labour group, who described the proposed introduction of parking charges as “premature”.

The notice submitted by the councillors, states: “We the undersigned, believe the decision to consult on charging for disabled parking and parking in country parks is premature for the following reasons:

– The Executive Board has failed to fully consider and inform members of the financial impact the new infrastructure and signage will have in realising the proposed budget outcome.
– The Executive has failed to inform members of the risks to the council if the proposed budget income is not realised, thus putting unnecessary additional pressures on an environmental budget which regularly overspends.
– The Executive has failed to demonstrate a mitigation plan for the impact additional disabled parking will have on our Town Centre roads and side-streets as a result of implementing these charges.
– The Executive has failed to fully consider and inform Members of the impact to the Council’s enforcement resources as a result of implementing parking charges in all Country Parks.
– The Executive has failed to consider Council policies and plans in pursuing the proposed budget income of charging for disabled parking.

As a result of the call-in members of the committee will be debate the case for referring the decision back to the Executive Board for reconsideration.

If councillors agree to send the report back to the board for reconsideration, it will be debated again at the meeting on February 13th.

However if committee members decide not to support the call-in and object to referring it back to the Executive Board, the “head of corporate and customer services will advise the leader of the council and the chief executive that the decision may be implemented immediately thereafter”.

The Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee will take place at 4pm on Wednesday 7th February. The meeting will not be webcast, however those interested in the debate can sit in the public gallery. You can also follow our tweets on @wrexham on Twitter.

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