The Guildhall car park is set to be included in the recent parking fee increase after it was ‘unintentionally omitted’ from a vote, with it remaining free for Councillors in the week.
At the Executive Board last October proposals to increase the parking charges in Council owned car parks was passed by Councillors. The changes to parking tariffs began at the start of the month, and have seen an increase in up to 100% in some car parks, meaning to park in the town for an hour drivers can end up paying a £1 for a short stay car park. Local businesses have reacted angrily to the changes, and the retention of a free ‘perks’ car park – which if charged could generate around £100,000 pa.
Proposals for the Guildhall car park are due to go before the Executive Board on Tuesday, after the car park was ‘unintentionally omitted’ from the increase in parking charges. The report (which can be found here) states:
“As no Member authority had been given to amend the charge and tariff structure in the Guildhall, it was omitted from the order that came into operation on the 3rd February 2014. Member authorisation is required to bring the charges and tariff structure at the Guildhall car park in line with the other Town Centre based short stay car parks, as was the intention when the report came to Members back in October 2013.”
Parking at the car park is available to the public on Saturday and Sundays and for ‘permit holders’ on the weekdays between the hours of 8am – 6pm. Permit holders are also exempt from charges after 6pm in the car park. We are told that permits are given to Councillors and Council staff.
The Council ‘Free after midday’ initiative was also scrapped in the People’s Market and on Crescent Road, with Councillors implementing the ‘Free after Three’ scheme instead.
At present it costs 60p to park in the Guildhall car park for an hour, and £1.20 for up to two hours. The proposed changes would see the prices increase up to £1 for an hours parking and £1.50 for two hours parking. In the evening between 6pm and midnight it would cost £1 to park, compared to the current 50p charge. The free parking in the week would remain unchanged.
On the Council website it states that there are 63 parking spaces available in the Guildhall, four of which are disabled spaces. Based on the newest and lowest tariff, we have worked out (being generous , with low estimates) that if charges were applied for the free spaces it could raise £500 a day, or £2500 a week – that is £120,000 pa – if all users paid rather than having it free.
After our lunch in Try Thai, then coffee collection from Just Tea and Coffee we popped across to The Bank to ask Alex Jones about his recent tweets, one copied below, on the parking situation in town.
— Alex Jones (@alexmartinjones) February 6, 2014
In The Bank (which was quite busy so we assume people were paying the parking fee or walked!) a couple of other business owners aside from Mr Jones were chatting. As soon as we mentioned parking charges the floodgates opened with strong views being voiced about the changes, a sample below:
“We see the odd councillor scurrying around with heads down but not talking to us to see what we think. Businesses do not have a vote and are unrepresented.”
Another told us “People are chosing to go elsewhere, Mold and Broughton have easy access and cheap or free parking. “How much is the Chief Executive on? Its over a hundred grand, and she does not pay for car parking?”
“I invite any Councillors to come and do a day or a weeks work with us so they can see the reality”.
“People fill their car up with petrol, and it’s a cost they know and generally accept. Paying for parking is not like that, people begrudge it.”
Another we spoke to specifically mentioned the Council car park suggesting that the car park could be halved, “The lower tier could be used for the Chief Executive and whoever else needs it for urgent business and the other half on the upper tier used for public and therefore raising money for the Council, and us the ratepayer”.
Councillors will vote on the parking issue, again, on Tuesday and we will report live from the meeting to let you know if any Councillors will take up the offer of working in a local business for a day, or will give up their free parking perk, likewise if an extra £120,000 estimate revenue is of interest.
You will be able to read our meeting report via Wrexham.com, or follow our live tweets @wrexham on twitter.