Posted: Thu 4th Jul 2024

Local businesses could open carparks for matchdays – and residents could rent driveways for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

Plans to use the car park of a council office to alleviate parking problems when Wrexham AFC play at home are set to be considered next week.

The plans were revealed on two weeks ago, with more details now revealed ahead of the Executive Board on Tuesday.

Attendances at the Racecourse Ground have increased significantly since the football club was taken over by Rob and Ryan.

However, with more than 12,500 people now able to fit into the stadium, the Red Dragons’ popularity has led to parking issues in surrounding areas, leading to frustration for local residents.

Members of Wrexham Council’s executive board are now due to consider proposals to use the car park of the local authority’s housing depot to provide additional matchday parking.

The site on Ruthin Road in Wrexham has 135 spaces and deputy council leader David A Bithell (Ind) believes it could help to address the situation as Wrexham prepare for their first season in League One since 2005.

Speaking at a media briefing held yesterday (Tuesday, 2 July), he said: “We think it’s an opportunity to alleviate some of the pressures and concerns on matchdays because the Racecourse Ground and Mold Road is quite congested.

“Parking’s at a premium around that vicinity and we have we have had complaints from local people about parking and people blocking residential drives.

“We had a meeting with Rob McElhenney, and we said we were considering looking at parking proposals.

“The football club has got no objection to additional parking because it supports the wider aspects of the football ground.

“I’m not sure when we’re going to get it up and running but we’re going to try and do it as soon as we can.”
Payment would be required to park at the site under the proposals, with any income generated going into the council’s housing revenue account.

If approved, minor upgrades would be carried out to pedestrian routes between the car park and the stadium, which is located within a 15 minute walking distance.

Cllr Bithell said it could also be used for special events and at busy times of years to serve the wider city centre.
He also revealed that talks had been held over the possibility of using the car park as a park and ride facility.
He said: “Tentatively, we have held an initial discussion with a bus operator to ask if they would be interested in running bus services.

“At this stage, I would say it’s only an early discussion, but I think we need to keep all the options open.
“The football club are in League One and there’s going to be bigger attendances next season.

“When the new stand is eventually agreed, car parking around the city centre is going to be maxed out, so some of this is future proofing for the long term as well.” asked why it took two lads from North America to prompt Wrexham Council to get creative.

Cllr Bithell said, “We all know there wasn’t the fan base there as it is now, you could get a ticket tick back then! There wasn’t a lot of issues then.

“With success comes problems and traffic problems. I don’t think its taken them to spark us, as we never have the problem with the parking around the ground to that extent, we really didn’t. But now it’s a full house, isn’t it?”

Previously Cllr Phil Wynn related in the Kop planning application meetings and discussion a frustration around the engagement of the club over parking issues, and related solutions. We asked if this new plan was part of a genuine joined up future plan to resolve local concerns.

Cllr Pritchard said, “Phil is a local elected member, and he’s entitled to his opinion, I’ve always felt that when we’ve met the football club, when we sat down with them, we’ve had meaningful consultations, and they’re good people, and they want to find a solution.

“What I would say is, is that you’ve got to work together find solutions, and you got to work in partnership to move forward and come in with regards to the parking. pointed to the recent removal of free parking in the city centre with some businesses displaesed, and contrasted that to council support for what is essentially now a private business with owners with considerable resources.

Cllr Pritchard said that challenge was ‘a bit unfair’, adding “We’ve done a lot with regards to supporting local businesses, we give a lot of support to local businesses, and even in cost of living crisis this council lost a substantial amount of money supporting businesses. I can say there’s no state aid here with the football club.

“The fans will have to pay to use the car park, we’re not going to give it free. The money will go back into HRA (housing revenue account). It could be pay and display, or you may be able to apply for a season ticket, it hasn’t been decided yet.

“I can assure you we’re not we’re not subsidising anybody. Absolutely. We’re working in partnership to resolve a problem.”

Cllr Bithell encouraged others to be entrepreneurial, “Anybody who has got any private land out there, and they want to rent it to supporters to park… There are opportunities there for people as well, it is not just us as a council.

“There’s opportunities for local businesses to say ‘we could offer matchday parking’, B&Q or Sainsburys, all these other organisations, they could do exactly the same as what we’re doing as well and make a little bit of money as well, to alleviate some of the congestion.”

Cllr Pritchard added, “Even local residents could rent their drive. I mean if I lived close to the Racecourse and had a big drive I would rent it out and give the money to charity.

“I think the local member Cllr Wynn has concerns, and to be fair to Phil we have to find solutions and that is what we will do, but this is to be celebrated.”

The report will be considered by executive board members at their next meeting on Tuesday (July 9, 2024)

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter

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