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Council confirms city centre parking charge freeze

16 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Oxford Street, Swansea, where traders have welcomed a decision by Swansea Council not to increase parking charges. Photo Richard Youle

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

Businesses have welcomed a decision not to increase city centre parking charges in the coming financial year.

They said anything to help during tough trading conditions was welcome, but the decision will mean taxpayers continuing to subsidise parking.

Swansea council hiked parking charges last April following a nine-year freeze, although residents could get concessions. At the time council chiefs said charges were 22% lower than they ought to be, and that subsidising them the previous year had cost £2.1 million.

Backlash

There was a public backlash at the level of the increases, the council had a rethink, and lower offers were rolled out in the city centre.

Shoppers and workers can park for £1 an hour, up to a maximum of £5 for the full day, with a £2 charge for a full day on Sundays, with the exception of the multi-storey car park by Swansea Arena, which is more expensive. The current rates will remain as they are throughout 2024-25. The decision does not affect NCP-run car parks.

Matt Davies, the owner independent music business Tangled Parrott, which has a record store and cafe on High Street, said: “My honest opinion is that it’s such a difficult time at the moment that anything that helps bring people in is a good thing. Parking does make a big difference. I see it on a daily basis.”

Mr Davies, who also has outlets in Carmarthen and Hay-on-Wye and has been in business for 24 years, said: “There have been a lot of challenges and financial pressures in that time, but it feels like now it’s as difficult as it has ever been.”

Subsidising 

The council said investing in – or subsidising – city centre parking cost £1.35 million this year and would cost £2 million in 2024-25. While £2 million is a small proportion of its £591 million revenue budget for the coming year, you could reduce the forthcoming 5.99% rise in council tax by more than 1% if you ceased the subsidy.

Mr Davies said: “I suppose you have got to look at the long game. Smaller businesses are the lifeblood of the town. My personal feeling also is that central government needs to stop squeezing councils so hard.”

Council leader Rob Stewart said the authority wanted to support businesses and the public during a time of high living costs.

“That’s why we’re holding car parking charges at last year’s levels, which are already among the cheapest on offer by any city in Wales,” he said. “Residents and businesses alike have told us that lower city centre parking charges encourages footfall and eases the pressure on city centre workers’ household budgets. We’ve listened and acted on the feedback.”

Bus travel

The council is also setting aside £400,000 to subsidise free local bus travel during certain periods, including for nine days over Easter.

Carole Gough, the owner of Teamz Sportswear, Shoppers Walk, Swansea, said keeping parking costs at the same rate could encourage more people to visit the city. “It can only be good that they don’t put them up,” she said. “A lot of people aren’t coming in because not many shops are left.”

Her view was echoed by Debbie Read, the owner of The Leather Shop, Oxford Street. “It’s a fantastic idea,” she said. “I don’t think they should put them up it all – it deters people from coming into town.”

Nik Dosangh, who owns vintage clothing store Hobos, also on Oxford Street, said: “Most of my customers are students who walk in, so it doesn’t really make a difference to me, but it’s a really good idea.”


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