This afternoon the Executive Board voted in favour of an increase in parking charges in Wrexham Council car parks in the Town Centre.
The recommendation received a majority vote in favour of changes to parking charges, with a vote of five – three in favour.
The changes will see an increase of up to 100% in day and night time parking charges across car parks owned by Wrexham Council.
In a recent analysis of the Council’s ‘real time’ car park occupancy data, it was revealed that 8 out of the 9 Council operated car parks are operating at or above the expected 85% occupancy. Car parks owned by WCBC are the Library car park, Market Street, St Georges, the Multi-story, St Giles Waterworld, Guildhall, Crescent Road and Crown.
Currently the Crescent Road car park is listed as below the 85% occupancy. (Interestingly Guildhall car park doesn’t appear on the list below!)
The Council agenda states: “In terms of defining appropriate tariff structures and charges, application of the 85% occupancy rule is an appropriate measure to gauge whether existing charges are in line with market demand, ie what the public are prepared to pay for the services and opportunities on offer in Wrexham Town Centre. Whilst it is acknowledged that inflated parking charges can act as a deterrent, charges which are too low can have a similar impact through increased congestion and a lack of available parking spaces.”
Speaking about the decision to increase the parking fees, Councillor Bob Dutton said: “Free town parking has proved popular. In comparison to Chester and Shrewsbury the recommendations being made are very reasonable.”
Reference was also made to a previous debate the board had regarding parking charges, in which Cllr David. A Bithell described them as ‘lively’.
Listed below is a the full breakdown of the new proposed tariff structures.
The parking changes will also mean that the current free after midday parking in the People’s Market and Crescent Road car parks will now be free from 3pm onwards instead.
In 2011 the Council introduced free parking in the People’s Market and on Crescent Road in an attempt to help support Town Centre businesses and better utilise existing car parking provisions. However the decision to change the free parking in the car parks to 3pm was one that caused debate, with some councillors believing that this will have an impact on the number of people who shop in the town.
The report does refer to free parking being available at Tesco, however this is not the case, with the supermarket recently setting a time limit to the amount of time you can park there to prevent shoppers from parking there and going to town. As a result of parking there and then popping into town, you may get a speculative invoice for parking there if you exceed the terms that are stated on the signs in the car park.
Speaking about the proposed changes to parking, Cllr Bithell said: “Clearly this is a difficult debate for councillors bringing this forward. However free after 12 in some car parks has been very popular and well received. Traders and shoppers have welcomed the initiative. I’m not sure that free after three, will be welcomed.
He added: “The changes to night time tickets might discourage people from coming in. It might be better to have a loss with car parking and get people in the town.”
Councillor Carole O’Toole echoed these concerns, saying: “Could you not consider 1pm or 2pm? If people are coming into town to shop they have a few hours of free parking. Parking can have a huge impact on people when parking goes up on people who park on the roads in town centre wards. I think part of this needs to be re-examined.”
Councillor Joan Lowe commented on the changes not fitting in with parents who have children in school, adding: “To to me you could be cutting an area of people out who use this parking. I think this is going to be another nail in the coffin of Wrexham and will make it a ghost town.”
Councillor William Baldwin repeated comments made by Council Leader Neil Rogers in 2012, regarding ‘revamping parking charges to make the town more successful’; and the importance of businesses in Wrexham prospering. Cllr Rogers mentioned that 18 months ago the Council did not know they would have cut this amount of money.
However many Councillors favoured the recommendations, with Councillor Andrew Bailey saying the changes are reflective of family life.
In response to Cllr Lowe’s comments about Wrexham being a ghost town, Cllr Dutton said: “100% is £1 going up from 50p, so we need to use the real figure. We have considered every aspect of the situation and I don’t think Wrexham is a ghost town at all, it is suffering cuts implemented by the government, but Wrexham has a very good future.”
Councillor Malcolm King added: “I think its important Councillors here don’t talk down Wrexham, or we might end up talking something up that we really don’t want to happen.”
Alongside the changes to free parking, one proposal is the use of transferable Pay and Display tickets, which would allow people to transfer their ticket to other WCBC car parks in the town centre. Although it is important to note that maximum stay limits on each individual car park will apply.
Alongside this Pay and Display tickets purchased at the People’s Market or Crescent Road car parks will be non transferable.
Councillor Mark Pritchard said: “I’m pleased about the introduced roaming ticket for people visiting who are going one place and then driving to another shop.
“Free after 3pm I think is a good thing, catering for mothers and fathers who are doing the school run and them popping into town. I’m pleased there is still a large element of free parking in the town. I think it’s a good report and that’s why I’ve supported it.
Another Councillor added that they hope the Council continue to look after the most vulnerable, as disabled people are still entitled to their free parking. Adding: “There are some positives coming out of this.”
To read the full report from today’s Exec Board meeting view the PDF here on the Councils website.
The changes to car parking charges around the town has been subject to great debate on our forums over the past few days. To take part in the discussion then you can visit our forums here…