Conwy under fire for not following other northern counties with free Christmas parking offer
Richard Evans and Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporters
Conwy County Council has come under fire from its own councillors for not offering free parking in its car parks in the run up to Christmas.
Whilst neighbouring counties Denbighshire and Gwynedd both offer free parking to encourage shoppers to visit the high street, Conwy offers none.
Both Wrexham and Anglesey County Councils also have similar free car parking schemes throughout December.
Gwynedd offers free parking all day, every day in selected car parks, as does Anglesey after 10 am.
And Denbighshire County Council offers free car parking after 3 pm in eight of its towns, including Rhyl, Denbigh and Llangollen.
Flintshire is the only other county in the north of Wales not to offer free parking in the run-up to Christmas. They said that it was a matter for individual town councils.
Cllr Anne McCaffrey feared Conwy shoppers could decide to travel across the borders to spend money in neighbouring counties after a difficult two years.
“Supporting local businesses this Christmas is a win-win,” she said. “It helps the environment, local economy and residents too. But free parking is key. I’m concerned if Conwy is out of synch with neighbouring councils on this. After a difficult year, Conwy businesses need the Conwy pound to be spent in Conwy, not elsewhere!”
Cllr Aaron Wynne agreed. “Conwy should follow neighbouring authorities and introduce free parking from now until Christmas. Local businesses have struggled throughout the COVID period, and I think the local authority has a role to play supporting local businesses and trying to get people to shop locally, rather than shop online,” he said.
“Llanrwst, for example, is the centre of the Conwy Valley. We want people to visit the shops and cafes. They can only do that if we follow the other local authorities.
“Places like Parc Llandudno and Mostyn Champneys, they offer free parking. They tend to cater for bigger national businesses. The smaller local high-street businesses we need to support, they’re the ones who would benefit from car parks becoming free.”
A spokeswoman for Conwy County Council confirmed the authority was not offering free parking in December.
What are other councils doing?
While Conwy and Flintshire have confirmed there will be no free Christmas parking, the other councils in the north of Wales have revealed plans to take advantage of the seasonal shoppers:
Since November 21 and until December 31, all Denbighshire Council operated town centre car parks are free of charge after 3pm.
In operation at council car parks in Corwen, Denbigh, Llangollen, Prestatyn, Rhuddlan, Rhyl, Ruthin and St Asaph, the portfolio holder for transport has urged residents to support their local town centres.
“Communities need our support this year more than ever, so we hope that people and businesses take full advantage of the benefits of this scheme by using the county’s town centre car parks free of charge,” said Cllr Brian Jones.
“The free after three scheme supports the council’s on-going #LoveLiveLocal campaign which highlights the importance of shopping local.
“We hope that this scheme encourages more people to visit our town centres and see what they have to offer.
“Denbighshire businesses offer a wide variety of products and services which appeal to all. Together lets #LoveLiveLocal and support our communities.”
Shoppers visiting Bangor, Caernarfon and Gwynedd’s other towns will again be offered free parking during the run-up to Christmas.
The scheme will run from December 11-28 in all council-run car parks other than Caernarfon’s Ffordd y Felin and Galeri car parks.
Cllr Gareth Griffith, the cabinet member for environment, said: “The Covid period has been very difficult for the business community, and the council hopes that this campaign in the run-up to Christmas will give Gwynedd companies a welcome boost.
“By shopping locally, rather than traveling for miles and getting stuck in traffic jams, you are not only helping local traders but you’re also helping the environment.
“Of course, the shopping experience remains a little different and we urge everyone to keep a social distance and to wear a mask in any shop or indoor public place to keep our communities safe.”
Isle of Anglesey
Following a tradition dating back several years, Ynys Môn council car parks will once again offer free parking after 10am every day.
The scheme will be in operation from Monday, December 13 and end on Wednesday, December 29.
“It has been an extremely tough couple of years for our local business and we know the Christmas trading period is so important for the local economy here on Anglesey,” said the council’s economic development portfolio holder, Cllr Carwyn Jones.
“Our small businesses have quality products and fabulous service, I would urge everyone to do what they can and get as much of their Christmas shopping as possible from our local businesses here on the island.”
Council owned car parks across the county will remain free of charge after 11am in a bid to help out local businesses, with the offer having already been in operation for several months.
“We’ll continue to do this throughout the run-up to Christmas and into next year, as it’s important we keep supporting the local economy as the UK continues to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic,” said a spokesperson for Wrexham Council.
“So please take advantage of the parking offer, shop in Wrexham and support local businesses this Christmas.”
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