Visitors to Wrexham town centre are to benefit from free parking on ‘key dates’ throughout the year – along with a very early Christmas present of a month of free parking in December.
The announcement, which was made at yesterday’s Executive Board meeting, comes off the back off a successful scheme last December which saw free parking in all Council owned car parks throughout the month.
The initiative, which was introduced in a bid to increase footfall and boost the local economy, allowed shoppers to park for free in any Council owned car park for a two hour period.
During December the free parking was praised for bringing people to the town centre, including the Christmas Victorian Market which attraced 15,000 people.
Speaking at yesterday’s meeting Cllr David A Bithell, Lead Member for Environment and Transport, stated that ‘feedback from shoppers and local businesses was positive’.
As with previous years the Wrexham Food Festival in May, the Annual Play Day in August and Small Business Saturday in December will also be free parking days.
It was also announced that the current administration are not planning to increase parking charges during the next financial year between 2017/18.
Welcoming the news, Cllr Neil Rogers said: “There was positive feedback from the Town Centre Forum for example and people who shop in Wrexham.
“We will continue to support this initiative. It is a clear message to people planning their events in the summer and later in the year.”
However questions were asked on the impact the initiative will have on the Council’s income line for car parking, with Cllr Dana Davies querying if the current target will be revised.
She added: “We are on target for £154,000 so there is £275,000 shortfall. I believe that the £429,000 income target is too high. Can we reduce that down based on what we are doing, otherwise it will put pressure on that department budget, that will result in additional cuts.”
Cllr Bithell said: “There was a loss of income last year, mainly due to broken parking machines. Subsequently to that we have replaced them and we have one more to replace at Ruabon Train Station.
“Apart from those days we are not predicting that we are going to see a loss as we have invested in new technology and are hoping income levels will be maintained in the next financial year.”
Council Leader Mark Pritchard added: “It is just a forecast as we don’t know how many people will use our car parks – we might have a bumper year or we might have a reduction.
“I believe we should not use it as a forecast but look at the end of the year to see what is generated. It would be dangerous to use it against the predicted income. I would say wait and see at the end of financial year will know what we have taken from the car parks.”