Plans to press ahead with the process to introduce parking charges at country parks and for Blue Badge holders have been put on pause following challenge from Labour councillors.
Earlier this month Wrexham.com reported that members of the Executive Board had unanimously backed proposals to introduce charges for parking in country parks and for Blue Badge holders in the town centre.
The proposals had featured as part of the recent Difficult Decisions budget consultation and have 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.
As a result of the lead member’s support, a statutory notice consultation was due to be published in ‘the press’ – believed to be a single paper – before the changes were introduced at the start of April.
However the decision of the board has been challenged by opposition councillors from the Welsh Labour Group, who describe the move to introduce the charges for Blue Badge holders and country park users as “premature”.
A call-in notice has now been submitted by members of the Wrexham Labour Group, with councillors Frank Hemmings, Paul D Jones, Brian Cameron, Krista Childs and Derek Wright submitting the document.
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 the statutory consultation period is now on hold until the call in process has been complete.
Labour’s Dana Davies told us: “Clearly there is a lack of detail in the report presented to January’s Executive Board.
“For a meaningful consultation to take place, specific details must be known.
“With this in mind, the Labour Group believe the Executive Board’s decision to consult is premature and we have listed their failures in the formal Call In Notice, which will be debated at Scrutiny on the 7th February.