Shrewsbury business group slams Shropshire Council parking charges plan
Shrewsbury business leaders have hit out at planned changes to parking charges claiming they show "'little care for the wider economic impact on the town".
Members of Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID), a group which represents more than 500 of the town's businesses, have expressed deep concern about Shropshire Council's new car parking strategy in their official consultation response.
The plan proposes a 'level playing field' of parking charges across Shropshire at all council car parks and on-street bays.
Members of the BID have have claimed the strategy appears to be about making money, without taking into account the effect on the number of people visiting the town.
Earlier this month the group met with senior Shropshire Council officers and members outlining its concerns about the proposals, and is now in early discussions about a possible way forward.
Kevin Lockwood, chair of the BID access and car parking group, and manager for Shrewsbury Shopping Centres said he believed the changes would result in fewer people visiting the town to shop.
He said: “The proposals are at odds with the objectives of the strategy and in particular to ‘contribute to economic growth’. The strategy appears to have been designed with the objective of generating additional revenue, with little care for the wider economic impact on the town.
"Given some of the proposed pricing increases, we believe it is highly unlikely that the strategy would lead to increased revenues due to a decrease in usage.”
Some shop owners have claimed the proposed parking charge rises could put them out of business.
Vicki Heath, owner of The Cave on High Street said: "As a small independent business we have seen constant rising costs to the point of near closure.
"We strongly believe that the proposed car parking charges will deter visitors to the town centre - especially on Sundays. We need to encourage people into town and this will only force people to out-of-town shopping centres."
Shrewsbury BID worked with car parking specialists AECOM to review the strategy.
In its conclusions the organisation states concern that a linear pricing structure with no cap will lead to users being penalised for staying at car parks for longer periods.
The BID also claims that adopting the standard linear pricing structure on Sundays will lead to a large proportion of Sunday visitors going elsewhere or not travelling at all.
The organisation says that the strategy does not compare well to the charges adopted by Telford & Wrekin Council, which is not governed by the review. Telford offers £3/£4 daily parking in the town centre, compared to a minimum £5 or a maximum £25 in Shrewsbury.
Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways and transport, said:
“We’re proposing a number of changes to our parking strategy, including what and how we charge for on-street and off-street parking. We think these proposals which will make parking arrangements – both in car parks on on-street – simpler, clearer and more consistent, but these are proposals at this stage and we want to know what people think. We welcome the response from Shrewsbury BID and encourage others to feedback their views before the consultation ends next Tuesday.
“All responses to the consultation will be carefully considered before the final proposals are presented to Shropshire Council’s Cabinet later this year.”