Statement as given to Wrexham Council on 5th April 2011 regarding on street parking charges proposal.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, I speak to Agenda Item 6 Parking Management.

I know I speak for everyone here, including the Board, when I say we all want Wrexham to be a thriving, vibrant, prosperous town. However, despite what an external feasibility study may persuade you to  believe, trading here  in Wrexham today is very tough . There are at least 44 empty shops in the town centre, including 7 in King Street, 7 in Hope and Regent Street and 6 in Eagles Meadow. You also have 21 empty stalls in your market halls.

To introduce the on street parking charges and extend the hours of payment in all car parks will be a completely unnecessary, avoidable, commercial disaster for the town’s business community.

Small businesses are the life blood of Wrexham and the location of such businesses is  important. It is not by accident that many of the nine on street parking bays, that have been selected  by your officers, have a common factor, in that they front businesses who trade  directly alongside free parking in the hope it would give them an “edge” when attracting customers.

The parking  bay charge, or the 50p Wrexham shopping tax as some are calling it, would  be an added  cost  to their customers, and a detriment to their trade.

This scheme, if implemented, will raise revenue. But you know that by law you are prevented from using it for other activities. It can not be spent on more care workers or teachers for example.  So what will you use the money on?

I quote paragraph 4.3 in your report ” development of a new innovative car park signing strategy.   Also in 4.5  you refer to a  system to monitor “real time” occupancy rates in your car parks. Do you honestly believe these more important and necessary than ensuing the businesses of Wrexham survive?

Moving on to paragraph 4.2 (b) which  states that on street parking charges would and I quote “provide additional benefits”.

What are the benefits you identify?

There would be an Increase of turnover of spaces .  This is not true ,  if each space can in future be used for up to an hour rather than only half an hour,   less cars would be able to use each space.

Increased Convenience! Not true , free parking is convenient  , no coins or ticket to fuss with.

It  helps  facilitate deliveries Being charged for the privilege of having your goods delivered  is not a benefit!

Reduces searching for parking — There is no problem finding  free short   stay parking spaces in Wrexham. I passed many empty spaces on my way here today.

Reduces congestion Is there evidence of people queuing to park on the streets of Wrexham?

Reduces accidentsWhere is there evidence that paying to park reduces accidents.?

Reduces energy consumption and pollution Again how does paying to park impact on this, infact the additional  parking machines would use extra energy !

I wonder why these so called “benefits” were not referred to in the Scrutiny Committee Report .  Mr Chairman, I suspect this paragraph has been added to the Executive  Board Report in,  a desperate  attempt  to give some positive spin to a flawed proposal. In truth there are no benefits, to businesses or customers of paid on street parking.To  further quote your own report(page1) we are in a  ”  difficult and challenging financial climate”

Inflation is up, unemployment is up consumer confidence is low.  This council has had the luxury of raising council tax by 3% this year. Our neighbour West Cheshire and Chester has had to manage on a standstill budget but they still recognise that free short stay city centre parking is vital to the viability of   Chester city centre and they have protected it. Indeed they have gone one step further with a creative and highly successful, trade stimulating, “Free after Three” parking  scheme across the Gorse Stakes, Brook Street and the Market Car Park. We need some of that positive and inventive thinking here in Wrexham. To achieve our aim of a vibrant and prosperous Wrexham we need transparency, good communication and a spirit of working  together, the council   needs  to support  its  local  businesses, I fear the implementation of these proposals  now would only lead to stagnation and a feeling of betrayal.

The ultimate responsibility for this decision, rests on your shoulders and I request that this committee be decisive and reject ,these  parking proposals, outright, here and now .I also  think  a recorded vote would b appropriate, for such an historic decision, as on street parking has been free in Wrexham since its incorporation in 1857.

I have made this statement with backing of the Wrexham Chamber of Trade,the Town Centre Forum and The National Market Traders Federation Wrexham Branch.