Campaigners have welcomed the scrapping of controversial parking plans in Shrewsbury and Ludlow.
Shropshire Council's new parking strategy included plans to extend the charging period from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Throughout the summer, placard-waving protesters in Ludlow and Shrewsbury campaigned for Shropshire Council to ditch the revamp on the parking strategy.
Now cabinet has agreed that parking will remain free after 6 pm following pressure from lobbying groups.
Importance of Free Evening Car Parking
For years there has been debate over the importance of free car parking in town centres to a bid to lure shoppers back into town and aid the recovery of the high street.
In 2015 a minister indicated how shopping areas flourished after scrapping parking charges. Marcus Jones, who at the time was high streets minister said: “Unfair parking fines push up the cost of living an undermine high streets. Instead, councils should be focusing their efforts on supporting our town centres and motorists, not by raising money through over-zealous parking enforcement. “
Last November, it was revealed that Shropshire Council raked in more than £2.6 million from car parking charges in 12 months.
Campaigners believed that the evening parking charges would have had a detrimental effect on the county’s night-time economies with fewer people coming to visit its thriving centres, bars and restaurants.
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‘Major Win’ for Shrewsbury
BID campaigned for the council to scrap the parking changes and has highlighted the importance of free car parking for the evening economy in the town.
Seb Slater, Executive Director of Shrewsbury BID commented: “This is a major win for Shrewsbury businesses. We are delighted that the council has listened to our members and the wider public about the vital importance of free car parking for the night time economy. Removal of these charges along with the other amendments we have already negotiated for the daytime economy will be welcome news for all businesses.”
“Throughout this process, we have lobbied the Council on this strategy to ensure the voice of the business is heard and that it reflects their views on this crucial aspect which affects trading within the town.
“This proves the council are willing to listen and we have agreed to work with them on the promotion and development of the car parking strategy moving forward.”
News ‘a great relief’ for Local Business Owner
Business owners in Shrewsbury have also expressed relief at the rethink.
Ann Ditella, owner of Loopy Shrew, Darwin’s Kitchen and Darwin’s Townhouse said: “As a family run business group with a number of operations servicing the evening and night time customer, this news is warmly welcomed and frankly a great relief.
“The BID has fought continuously on our behalf to counter what many of us felt was a deeply detrimental move for the night time economy. This free parking will make a significant difference for many businesses who were dismayed at the idea of new charging penalising the evening visitor to the town.”
Helping Local Businesses
Steve Davenport, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “One of the key aims of the new parking strategy is to encourage people to visit Shrewsbury and all our market towns by making parking and parking charges simpler, clearer and fairer, and to help local business as a result.
“We’ve listened carefully to the BID throughout the two rounds of consultation into the strategy, and had already made a number of changes to the strategy as a result. I’m pleased that we’ve now come to an agreement about evening charges too, which we hope will benefit Shrewsbury’s town centre businesses and help to boost the town’s night-time economy.”
Raven Meadows Parking U-Turn Rejected
In a recent turn of events, calls to rethink extending parking hours at Shrewsbury’s only multi-storey car park have been rejected.
Liberal Democrats leader Roger Evans proposed that the decision to extend the parking charging hours from 6 pm to 8 pm should be re-examined by cabinet. However, the scrutiny committee was concerned over the cost implications of making the car park safer at night.
Steven Brown, highways, transport and environment manager said in Shropshire Star: “If it’s going to be safe and secure there would need to be someone on the end of the phone, there is a cost element in that which needs to be recognised.”
In the future, it is intended that Raven Meadows is opened 24/7 and to include a three-hour cap on the linear tariff of three hours between 8 pm and 8 am.
There will be an eight-hour tariff cap between 8 am and 8 pm Monday to Saturday, and a flat rate tariff of £1.50 with a 10-hour tariff cap on Sundays and bank holidays.
Ludlow Parking Permit Proposals Under Fire
Residents in Ludlow, Bridgnorth, Ellesmere and Shrewsbury could be forking out £100 per year for parking permits under new proposals.
The consultation period, which ended in early September, came under fire from Ludlow East Councillor Andy Boddington.
It was proposed that the cost of having an annual residents permit would double in price for Ludlow’s Red and Blue Zones. One permit will be allowed per property.
He said: “The latest parking consultation was launched without any fanfare, not so much as a press release or even an email to Shropshire Councillors.”
“The cost of having an annual residents’ permit for Ludlow’s Red and Blue Zones will double to £100. Only one permit will be allowed for each property. That’s a change from previous plans which were more flexible, allowing more than one permit providing the streets did not become too crowded.
Every property with a resident’s permit will be eligible for 200 hours of free parking for guests. Visitor permits will be available for residents that do not hold a residents’ permit at a cost of £5.”
Parking Charges in Shrewsbury
Free parking will remain after 6 pm for both on-street and in Shropshire Council owned car parks. The exception to this being Raven Meadows multi-storey with charges applying until midnight initially before 24-hour opening later in the year.
There will be free parking on Sundays and bank holidays in Frankwell and Abbey Foregate and the 15 minutes ‘pop and shop’ free car parking in all car parks. Discounted weekly and seasonal tickets are available in Frankwell and Abbey Foregate will be cheaper than it is now.