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New parking charges for blue badge holders and country park visitors as councillor’s own free parking perk criticised by public

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Thursday, Jan 4th, 2018.

Parking charges for blue badge holders in Wrexham and visitors to local country parks could soon be introduced.

In a report due before the Executive Board next week, it has been proposed that the fees at three country parks and for disabled parking in council-owned car parks (where charges apply) are introduced to help generate “additional sources of revenue”.

However senior councillors say the message from the public is “loud and clear” about their perks of free parking being no longer acceptable.

Currently, disabled Blue Badge holders may park for free at any council operated car parks. New proposals which will be considered by next week’s Executive Board would see this change.

The proposals recommend that parking charges be introduced for Blue Badge holders which would bring them into line with all other car park users across all car parks operated by Wrexham Council where charges apply.

But Blue Badge holders would have an additional hour added to the usual tariff – for example, those paying for a three-hour stay would be able to park for four hours.

Wrexham Council also manages a number of country parks across the county borough, with the locations currently offer free parking.

A second proposal due before councillors next week recommends the introduction of a £1 all-day parking charge at Alyn Waters (Gwersyllt and Llay), Nant Mill and Ty Mawr.

A £50 annual ticket would also be available for users looking to park on a frequent basis.

New machines would be put in place at the country parks, allowing users to pay by cash and in addition car park users could use the mobile phone app or phone to pay.

Cllr David A Bithell, Lead Member for Environment and Transport, said: “These initiatives were included in the recent Difficult Decisions consultation, which took place in the winter of 2017, and responses received from the public for introducing these new measures were supportive.”

Cllr Bithell said the plans would generate £47k in country parks, and £25k in blue badge parking charges.

The money is ‘not profit’ as it is being taken as a revenue raiser to offset cuts, with Cllr Bithell stating: “If we don’t implement these charges it means extra pressures or front line cuts.”

We asked if members of the public should be targeted for parking charges as a revenue raiser while some members of Council staff and Councillors (if they take it up) get a free town centre parking perk right outside the Guildhall.

Cllr Bithell pointed out that it was an ‘operational matter’ and various meetings had taken place on that topic. It was referenced and recognised that in the recent ‘Difficult Decisions’ the highest average scoring suggestion being to withdraw the perk of free parking for some council staff and all councillors – the full response summary PDF is here.

In a watch-this-space style nod Cllr Bithell noted that the report before councillors next week is to kick off the necessary statutory legal consultation required for the implementation of the country park and disabled parking, and thus councillors own parking arrangement would not come under that, but would require a separate piece of work.

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