Dismay as re-think call over Shropshire parking fee changes is rejected
Pleas for Shropshire Council to reconsider new parking charges in some towns in the county have failed to gain backing.
Cabinet members voted in January to approve a new 'linear' approach to car park and on-street tariffs, with all parking areas in the county sorted into seven bands, ranging from £2.50 per hour to free.
After the strategy was approved, the Liberal Democrat Group called in the decision to be re-considered by the Place Overview Committee, but were left dismayed when the committee voted not to recommend any changes after a meeting yesterday.
The group had asked for the banding of Ludlow's Castle Street Car Park - set in band three at £1 per hour - to be looked at again along with the three car parks in Wem, which will rise from 10p per hour to 30p under the new strategy.
Councillor Chris Mellings, representing Wem, said higher charges in his town would see many shoppers lost to Shrewsbury
"Car parking charges are relatively new to Wem, they were only introduced in 2011. Wem has been grouped in band three with Ellesmere and Whitchurch, and while they are all in North Shropshire that is where the similarities end. Whitchurch for example has a number of national companies, so its retail business is much stronger. Ellesmere is more of a tourist town which Wem is unfortunately not.
"It will take money out of the town's economy rather than supporting it."
George Candler, Director of the Place Overview Committee, explained the 'matrix methodology' that was used to establish how each parking area should be banded. It included factors like location, likelihood of obtaining a space and capacity.
Councillor Andy Boddington, who represents Ludlow North, also raised concerns about the abolition of short-stay parking zone, which he said would make it even harder to find a space in Ludlow during the day.
He said: "We will never have sufficient parking for Ludlow. We would like to see, across the town centre, a cap on short-term parking at three or four hours.
"We have a slightly different population from many towns - we don't have this nine to five business and don't have people who return home and park on the streets at 5pm. In the town centre around 40 per cent of people are of retirement age so we have got a constant turnover all day.
"At Castle Street we have got no objection to the price or the banding, we would just like to see maximum stays restricted."
The call-in also asked the committee to recommend retaining the current free parking after 6pm at Castle Street, which was to be extended to 8pm under the new strategy, and to retain the tradespersons waiver at £10 for the second and subsequent days rather than lift them to £20.
Tim Gill, Mayor of Ludlow, said: "The town centre needs to be re-classified so there are no parking charges after 6pm. Those residents in the town centre, many are retired, are already parking there at that time.
"I hope this committee will consider not only the fundraising potential but the residents, businesses and workers who will be affected."
Councillor Viv Parry, representing Ludlow South, said: "I don't want people to be charged up until 8pm, it will mean people stop coming into town for evening meetings and classes. It will kill all the things we have in the town completely."
The final point raised by the Lib Dem group was that cutting the 'pop and shop' limit from 15 minutes to five encouraged "unlawful behaviour" as drivers were effectively being told to use the statutory 10 minute observation period to extend their stay without getting a ticket.
But at the end of the two-hour meeting, committee chair Councillor Gwilym Butler proposed that no changes be recommended. This was voted through and will be fed back to cabinet members at their next meeting on Wednesday.