The cost of parking in the town centre was once again raised as an issue by members of the Town Centre Forum.
Car parking in town centre has been an ongoing ‘hot topic’ for several months, with the subject regularly frequenting the Town Centre Forum and Council meetings alike.
In what turned out to be the more prominent aspect of the Forum meeting yesterday, car parking once again caused quite a debate as members of the Forum queried the town centre parking stats and when they would be put out in the public domain.
However there seemed to be some confusion as to who exactly wanted the stats and why they were not available for the public already, with the minutes of the last meeting noting that “Cllr Neil Rogers explained figures had already been provided and are in the public domain”. It was explained to the meeting that the figures referred to were not the most recent ones.
The overall impact the prices of parking in the town centre were having on businesses in Wrexham was also raised as a discussion point, with some town traders raising concerns of cheaper parking in nearby town.
Nigel Lewis from Wrexham Savers described the Eagles Meadow car parking prices as a ‘betrayal’, adding that in Mold, Ellesmere Port, Llangollen and Ruthin the short stay car parking averages at 50p. (Wrexham.com broke the news of the 25% increase to Eagles Meadow prices back in July here)
Mr Lewis also commented on the impact the parking charges have had on businesses, referring to figures given to him that suggest a decline commercial activity in some town centre businesses, .
Mr Lewis added: “Has anyone been to speak to these businesses? These people are seriously concerned. We can massage the figures all we want but go and look at the car parks, it’s a criminal waste.
“If people aren’t parking in the car parks, they aren’t spending money. Out of town shops and supermarkets are doing well is because people can grab their baskets and just go in.”
Mr Lewis went on to offer a mathematical deduction on how the Council has a very high percentage of the town’s car parks, contrary to their own information.
Manager of Eagles Meadow, Kevin Critchley said: “Let’s accept when the Council say they operate 19% of the car parks, I don’t think they have made that up. To take out other car parks to make that percentage higher is unfair.
“What seems to be the issue is information and data. Perhaps the basic question is, what are the Council car parks for? To assist the businesses in Wrexham? A source of finance, profit making to offset other costs. Basically what have the Council got car parks for?”
It was also pointed out by Joanne Rogers from the Council’s Environment Department, that visitors to Wrexham who use other modes of transport to enter the town centre also need to be taken into consideration.
One suggestion posed to the Forum was the introduction of a three hour stay car park, compared to the short stay two hour car parks that are currently in the town.
Lesley Taylor from Brook Street said: “I think everybody just wishes that everyone who comes to Wrexham, be it by train, bus or car, that we encourage them to stay. We need to make it a destination to stay, we have plenty to offer for a days entertainment.
“That’s why the point has been made about the two hours car parking, it’s just a case of maximising what we have got. We need to grab the nettle and make the best of what we have got.”
However Council Leader Neil Rogers reminded the Forum of the ongoing financial cuts the Council face and the results of the public consultation last year.
Councillor Rogers noted that a second consultation is to due to begin soon and advised people to vote on what they care about the most, including car parking fees in the town centre.