Disclaimer: Prices quoted were correct when this article was published.
Motoring, like appearing on the X Factor, is about the journey. More specifically, it’s about completing the journey. So whether you’re a mid-40s housewife pirouetting with a performing pet Pekinese, a preening poseur piloting a prancing pony - or even just plain old Pontesbury Pete, pootling about in your parents’ Honda CRV - you’re going to need somewhere to park it when you get to the other end.
And the good news is, that in Shropshire, there are more than 100 either council run, store or private car parks to choose from, not to mention hundreds of on-street parking places - pretty much all of them quite near to where you want to end up…
When we’re parking, we’re looking for somewhere safe, protected from the risks of scrapage, knockage or bumpage, unlikely to incur the wrath of any over-zealous clamper and, preferably, free.
And we can become pretty militant about it when ‘the powers that be’ mess with our inalienable constitutional right to park ‘wherever, whenever’ - as the great Wrekin District Parkers’ Revolt of only a few years ago proved. Then, Telford and Wrekin Council caused uproar after deciding to impose fees on car parks that had previously been free.
As a Newport lad (naturalised, not born, to be fair) I was among those affronted by the decision of the Malinsgate Mandarins to charge us simple market town folk actual money to park on our own back yard - more specifically, the Stafford Street or New Street car parks.
For was it not on that very New Street arena my brother and I, in the small hours of one steamy Friday night after a few beers and a curry at the late lamented Akash, had staged our very own floodlit limited-abilities cricket match with a stick for a bat and a rock-hard sponge for a ball to the obvious bemusement of a couple of mildly disinterested members of the local constabulary only moments before the end of their shift back in the dying days of the last century?
This was after all our home turf. Heavily disguised as asphalt, obviously
A few years of huffing and the populous being generally grumpy finally led to the decision being repealed.
Where is the cheapest parking in Shropshire?
Generally speaking, Telford and Wrekin. Pretty much all of the council-run car parks are now free - though not necessarily without restriction, so it’s always wise to ‘read the signage’ as the signage helpfully tells you.
There are exceptions of course. Telford Town Centre’s fancifully-named car parks all incur a charge after the first free 10 minutes up to a maximum of £3. Interestingly, the new Asda store at Malinsgate, which butts up to the Brown Elm car park, is now charging, with a rebate for shoppers who actually use the store, having initially been free.
The Forge Retail Park is free as is the Wellington Retail Park - although once again, long-stay and overnight restrictions may apply. Shropshire Council - which is everywhere other than Telford and Wrekin - has a pretty-much blanket charge for parking, although at differing rates. Parking with Shrewsbury’s Park and Ride service, which has car parks at Harlescott, Meole Brace and Harlescott is ‘free’ with the proviso you buy a £1.60 return bus ticket, which still looks like good value.
The law of supply and demand tells you that parking is going to be more expensive the closer you are to main shopping centres. For instance, the St Austin’s park in Shrewsbury is restricted in the main to two hours for £3.10, while Abbey Foregate, outside the main loop of the River Severn, is a very manageable £2.70 for up to 10 hours - which is the same charge for only three hours at Frankwell Riverside.
The other big niggle where parking is concerned, of course, is shospitals. Both the Royal Shrewsbury and Telford’s Princess Royal operate the same charging structure, with the first half hour free and a maximum of £3.50 for up to 24 hours.
You can also get a 10-visit ‘season ticket’ for £8. More details at http://www.sath.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/Getting-to-us/car_parking.aspx. Beware, too, of overstaying your welcome at some store car parks.
A close acquaintance of mine by marriage and thus bearing the same surname, returned home one day from visiting a friend in Shrewsbury and having spent over-long parked at the Home Bargains ‘free’ car park in Abbey Foregate. She was waving a freshly-minted parking fine notice and raving at the unfairness of it all.
Outraged on her behalf (mainly along the ‘for richer, for poorer’ lines) I set out to prove her innocence, only to discover that she would have had to drive past a sign warning her of impending doom if she over-stayed to get into the car park in the first place and had clearly missed the other six signs offering the same advice - including the one two places down from where she parked. In this case, for richer in terms of wisdom, for poorer in pocket!
For more information about parking, I recommend the fabulously detailed Parkopedia website at http://en.parkopedia.co.uk. Here you can search away to your heart’s content for the useful minutiae of the ultimate parking experience in Shropshire and beyond. Pictures: St_Marys_St Free street parking in Newport on the historic cobbles of St Mary’s Street Stafford_St Newport’s Stafford Street car park New_St In a nutshell - what’s available at New Street in Newport