Oswestry car parking income halved in the past 12 months

Income from Oswestry's car parks has more than halved in the past 12 months.

Oswestry mayor Councillor Mark Jones at the charity market
Oswestry mayor Councillor Mark Jones at the charity market

The slashing of income for the town council, which runs the three main car parks in Oswestry, will be debated by members at a meeting on Monday.

The end of year figures for Central and Smithfield Street car parks and the Horsemarket are revealed in a report by financial officer, Mr Roger Dyke.

He says that for the larger, Central car park the total income for April-March of 2020/21 was £228,115 compared to £456,963 last year, a decrease of 50 per cent.

The Horsemarket brought in £46,518 this year, £103,408 for the same period last year , a decrease of 55 per cent – while for Smithfield Street the figures are £38,908 compared to £81,689 last year, a decrease of per cent.

Before the coronavirus pandemic the town centre had already brought in a new ruling making car parking free after 6pm in an effort to attract people into the town in the evenings.

That would have helped to cut the income from the car parking tickets.

However the majority of the money was lost during the national lockdowns when people could only travel for essential reasons and all but essential shops were shut.

The Mayor of Oswestry, Councillor Mark Jones, speaking before the meeting, said that early in the first lockdown the decision had been taken to make car parking free.

"It was a double-edged sword," he said.

"People were working from home and they weren't coming in to town for anything other than food shopping and for prescriptions. So the car parks were comparatively empty. But we wanted to help the people who did have to use the car parks - the essential workers and those coming into the centre for things like picking up their prescriptions."

Councillor Jones said that the loss of the money, more than £300,000, was a huge blow to the finances of the town council.

"The car park income is of huge importance to the council."

He said that, with the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions it was good to see people returning to Oswestry and to see the car parks filling up.

"I spend a recent market day talking to traders and they are pleased to see shoppers back in the town centre," he said.

A budget report to councillors earlier this year looked at the cut in income from the car parks.

At the time town clerk Arren Roberts said that during the New Year lockdown, income was down about £8,000 a week.

"The town council is doing everything it can to manage our expenditure, he said. We are reducing our spend and holding vacancies. Clearly it is difficult but hopefully we can offset those losses," he told councillors debating the budget.

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