Shop owners, traders and the people of Wrexham today arrived at the Guildhall to voice their concern about the proposed introduction of on street parking charges in the town. Sadly due to a very short notification period only one person was able to speak from the floor about the issue.
Lesley Taylor spoke with the backing of the Town Center Forum and the National Market Traders Federation (Wrexham Branch). “There are at least 44 empty shops in the town centre and 21 empty market stalls” she said, referring to the proposed parking charges as the ‘Wrexham Shopping Tax’.
In a scathing critique of the councils report she highlighted some ‘benefits’ mentioned including the lack of evidence to backup them up, namely that parking charges ‘reduce accidents’ and ‘increases convenience’.
It was also highlighted that the ‘benefits’ listed were not in the Scrutiny Committee Report, and suggested the reasons was due to a ‘desperate attempt to give some positive spin to a flawed proposal’.
The meeting started a little late due to the numbers present, with Stephanie Booth present with her film crew in tow. This meeting was to be the first Wrexham.com one with live tweeting, however we were told that we could not ‘transmit anything from the meeting’ so we queued tweets and broadcast them once 8 meters further right and out of the door at the end.
The proposal was amended before presentation to the council, to suggest a further wider consultation. This was called ‘abit rich’ by a councillor, using the example of ignored consultation on city status to the lack of public confidence in such routes.
To counter the argument that street parking has been free in Wrexham since its incorporation as a town in 1857, Councillor Dutton mentioned that there are more cars than the 1800s. He offered no other direct answers to points raised.
Several members spoke out against the initial proposal of parking charges, with Neil Rogers going as further than not just being ‘not convinced’ but suggesting that ‘sometimes you have to say we have got it wrong’. Further negative comments were made including calling the report itself ‘pretty poor’ and perhaps the best of the day with someone calling the public perception of the council as a ‘corporate Fagin dipping its hand in peoples pockets’.
After the initial statement by Lesley Taylor there was a spontaneous outbreak of applause, with the chairman instantly stating that there was to be ‘no public descent or applause’ , with Ms Booth attempting to interject but was told she could not speak. Later in the meeting she applauded again, and when told not to, she replied ‘oooh am I not allowed to clap?!’
The meeting approved the proposal to effectively send the idea to a wider consultation, with a very pointed comment regarding communication to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of what it is and how it will affect people.
Lesley Taylor’s statement can be found at the following page: Wrexham Parking Charges Statement to Council Meeting
Wrexham.com will be following up the ‘no tweeting’ rule as well ;)