Disclaimer: This article it is based on generalised journalistic research. JT Hughes does not accept responsibility for parking fees quoted in this article which subject to change from organisations who are responsible for managing them.
Town centre car parking charges can be a thorny issue for many motorists looking to indulge in some retail therapy or enjoy a spot of sightseeing in some of Shropshire's prettiest towns.
A study by the RAC Foundation revealed that Shropshire Council profited £3,158,000 from parking charges in 2014/2015, a change of 17% from 2013/2014. Meanwhile, Telford and Wrekin reported a 21% loss of -£104,000.
The Local Government Agency described the study as ‘misleading’ and insists the surplus money is not profit and spent on transport projects. The RAC Foundation called for better transparency and for councils to reveal ‘exactly where this excess ends up.’
It is local businesses that often fall casualty to parking price hikes as they battle declines in tourism, footfall and trade. However, there are some towns in Shropshire that are bucking the trend thanks to a decrease in charges to park on a Sunday.
We take a look at some of the cheapest places to park in Shropshire so you can get the most out of your time in town.
Park for a Pound
Shropshire Council-run car parks in Shrewsbury are now charging £1 a day for parking on Sundays in a bid to boost tourism. According to Kirsten Henly of Shrewsbury Business Improvement District, the new charges are breathing life into town centre businesses.
“Anecdotally we have received feedback of varying degrees that businesses in Shrewsbury Town Centre have benefited from the reduction in car parking charges,” she told JT Hughes.
“Customers are staying for longer and footfall data for year on year from June to September is up by 5%, which is very good against the retail trend. So it has shown a good impact correlating with the change in car parking prices.”
The new parking charges were launched last year by Shrewsbury Business Improvement District and Shropshire Council allowing people to remain parked all day in long stay car parks at a cost of £1, and in short stay for the maximum time for £1.
Kevin Lockwood, Shrewsbury Shopping Centre Manager also told JT Hughes the £1 parking on a Sunday in the town has been a positive change for the centre “The £1 parking has been great for us,” said Kevin.
“Since its introduction just over a year ago our footfall has increased by around 5% and we’ve had really positive feedback from both customers and tenants.”
“It’s been a collaborative effort from both the council and owners of the private car parks in Shrewsbury and you can see that the reduction in charges is really paying off for the town and long may it continue.”
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24 Hour Parking
There is also a proposal to extend the length of time shoppers can park in Shrewsbury. Raven Meadows Multi-Storey car park may be open 24 hours a day as part of a series of improvements to the site.
Shropshire Council has so far put in new payment machines, barriers and automatic plate recognition.
Kirsten Henly added when speaking to JT Hughes: “We are very supportive of the 24-hour car parking proposal at Raven Meadows Multi-Storey car park and it is something we would like to see happen. It would encourage customers to stay longer in the town centres and support businesses.”
Telford Parking in High Demand
Telford Town Centre has been through many changes in recent years with the £250 million Southwater development drawing shoppers to the area.
There has been an increased demand for parking in the town centre and last year Asda in Malinsgate decided to bring in pay-and-display machines to deter non-customers from parking there to avoid fees in the town centre.
Telford Town Centre car parks also charge £1 for motorists wanting to do their shopping on a Sunday.
Fines for Motorists
Ludlow is a picturesque market town renowned for being a foodie hot spot, attracting a new wave of tourists to the area.
However, during October, a number of motorists faced parking fines for leaving their cars in Market Square during the evening. Ludlow Town Council said the charges are nothing to do with them and are the responsibility of Shropshire County Council.
Paul Draper, the Mayor of Ludlow told the Ludlow Advertiser that the fines are needless as there are plenty of car parks in the town that are free after 6pm. Yet, it’s not just laziness that is keeping people out of car parks but the concerns over lighting.
“Parking tickets issued throughout the Town, including Ludlow Market Square, are the responsibility of Shropshire County Council, and revenue generated from parking fines is used by Shropshire County,” he said to the Ludlow Advertiser.
“The majority of queries to the town council have been concerned with fines issued after 6pm on Ludlow Market Square. During the day Ludlow is vibrant and full of market traders. In the evening, cars are parked in front of empty stalls.
“Parking at all the Town’s car parks including Castle Street car park is free after 6pm, although poor lighting tends to deter people from using Castle Street car park and they prefer to use the well-lit Town Council owned Market Square.”
He also added that people need to be aware of the double yellow lines surrounding the market that are enforceable by Shropshire Council in the evening.
It doesn't matter how small the cost of parking, some businesses believe that it can still act as a deterrent to some shoppers.
Motorists visiting Market Drayton can park for as little as 10p for two hours parking. Despite the low cost, one local business owner has reported a seeing a number of businesses struggle to retain trade and blames the parking charges.
Marta Power of Hair by Marta based in Market Drayton, created a petition earlier this year in a push for free parking as she believes it would bring more customers to the town. She said in the petition:
“I decided to create this petition to help Market Drayton local business and customers. Market Drayton is a lovely little town and I don’t think it’s fair that we have to pay for parking while others in towns like Newport have free parking.”
“We all have seen a lot of local shops closing recently and I think free parking could boost the amount of visitors and customers.”
She goes on to explain that the limit right now is £1.20 for three hours maximum stay. However, Marta noted that as a hair salon owner, the restriction can be of inconvenience to her customers who may have treatments that take longer than three hours.
Where to Park and Costs
If you’re wishing to plan a visit to town, here is our rundown of parking costs.
Short Stay and Long Stay car parks charge 50 pence for 30 minutes, £1.60 for up to two hours and £2.20 for up to three hours. For stays over three hours, short stay charges £6 and long stay charges £3.
After 6pm the cost is 50p on all car parks and on Thursdays motorists can park for free from 5pm. Sunday there is a flat rate of £1 for all car parks.
Short stay car parks include Red Oak, Yellow Beech and Ash Grey. Long stays include Cherry Pink, Brown Elm, Lime Green and Blue Willow.
Southwater Multi Storey shares the same pricing structure as the short stay car parks up to three hours and then charges £3 for up to four hours, £4 for up to five hours and £6 for five hours or more. From 5pm until 8am is £1 and on Sundays, there is a £1 flat rate. Surrounding retail parks are free to customers.
Short stay car parks at Bridge Street and St Austins motorists are charged £1.50 to park for up to one hour and £3.10 for up to two hours. Sundays cost £1 for up to two hours. The Tannery charges £1.50 to park for up to one hour, £3 for two hours and £15 for up to 10 hours while motorists can park on Sundays for £1 for up to two hours.
Charges vary at Frankwell Quay and Frankwell Riverside with three hours parking costing a maximum £2.70. The Quarry Swimming and Fitness Centre charge up to £4.80 for four hours, and Sunday parking costs £2.40 for up to four hours.
Long stay car parks at St Julian’s Friars and Frankwell Main cost up to £4 for 10 hours. Abbey Foregate charges £2.70 for up to 10 hours and £1 on Sundays. Raven Meadows Multi Storey charges £1.50 for up to one hour and up to £8 for 10 hours with Sundays costing £1 for 10 hours.
Charges differ across the town. The Smithfield costs 40p for one hour, £1 for two hours and £2 for up to 10 hours, with costs lower on a Sunday with up to 10 hours of parking for £1.
Costs at Upper Galdeford start at 40p for one hour and £2.40 for up to 10 hours. Sundays costs start at 20p for one hour and rise up to £1.20 for 10 hours.
Castle Street is 50p for the first hour, £1.10 for up to two hours, and £2.40 for up to four hours. Sundays cost 30p for one hour, 60p for up to two hours and £1.20 for up to four hours.
Frogmore and Queen Street charge 50p for one hour, 90p for two hours and £1.20 for up to three hours.
Towers Lawn costs start at 10p for two hours, 50p for four hours, £1 for six hours and £1.80 up to 10 hours. Parking at Newport Road Swimming Baths is free.
Long stay car parks Dale End and Station Yard charge £1.60 for up to one hour and £2.90 for over two hours. Short stay car parks cost vary. The Square charges 80p for the first 30 minutes and £1.60 for up to one hour. The Wharfage and Waterloo Street both charge £2.80 for up to three hours of parking.
Newport & Wellington
All council car parks in both towns are free.