Council defends changes to Shropshire car parks despite complaints from traders
Shropshire Council has defended its new car parking strategy and said there has been an increase in customer satisfaction.
However, at a review meeting at Shirehall on Wednesday, a number of elected councillors spoke against the scheme which was implemented last November and brought in a range of changes.
The authority's performance management scrutiny committee was asked to review the latest parking scheme after the first six months.
Transport commissioner Kevin Aitken told members there has been a number of improvements to the parking service across the county, including improved ease of enforcement, better customer satisfaction and a more streamline service with an increase in the number of people using chip and pin, contactless payments and digital ticketing.
But some councillors did not agree with the review and asked for major changes.
Councillor Tim Gill, mayor of Ludlow, said the new parking charges, and a reduction in pop and shop period, is destroying the town.
He said: "Ludlow over the years has bucked the trend. It has been a vibrant town with a lot of independent shops. I had my concerns about the new parking scheme but was told it was going to do great things for the town.
"It has done the opposite. One retailer I spoke to recently said it has totally devastated local trade."
He asked the committee members to urge the council's cabinet to re-instate the pop and shop period to half an hour, as opposed to 15 minutes.
Councillor Chris Mellings for Wem, said he had received a number of complaints about residents' parking permits increasing from £75 to £192.
Leader of the council's Lib Dems, Roger Evans, added: "If we listen, it's obvious what is going on in our market towns. Are we going to wait for them to start dying before we do anything to save them?
"We have been given these car parking stats for the last few months, but we need to listen to what traders are saying. They can see a comparison from year on year.
"The recommendations before us today completely ignores what our market towns are saying."
Members were asked to agree a list of amendments to the car parking strategy to go before cabinet, including changing the zones in Ludlow and to bring forward the evening tariffs in Shrewsbury's Raven Meadows car park to 6pm.
It also suggests Shropshire Council should absorb the convenience fee when people pay for parking via Mipermit.
Based on current transaction figures, it is estimated to cost about £7,500 a year.