Free morning parking proposed for three Welsh towns
Bruce Sinclair – Local Democracy Reporter
A call for free early morning car parking in three Welsh towns – along with potentially removing free parking on Aberystwyth’s promenade – was backed by councillors yesterday.
The free parking call, an amended version of a proposal before the council’s July 31 meeting of the Thriving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, asks for free parking between 8am and 10am Monday-Friday in one car park each in Lampeter, Aberaeron and Cardigan.
A report for members had initially suggested a possible period of free parking before 11am in all the county’s 21 council-run car parks be considered, but had warned this could potentially lead to an increase in council tax to recoup the loss of revenue of some £130,000.
That option would have increased to £170,000 if the loss from current free parking arrangements in Tregaron and Llandysul continued.
That original proposal, which could have led to a council tax increase of 0.325 per cent to 0.425 per cent, had not been expected to be supported.
At the meeting, several members suggested free parking trials in their areas, including Lampeter’s Ann Bowen Morgan, who had called for one of the town’s car parks be used a two-hour-free trial area.
During the debate, the existing free parking on Aberystwyth’s Promenade came into the crosshairs, with Tregaron’s Cllr Ifan Davies saying the “holy cow” of Aberystwyth should “share some of the burden” of parking costs.
Aberaeron’s Cllr Elizabeth Evans said the concept of free parking was well understood by the supermarkets as a way to boost trade, and short-term free parking in the county’s smaller towns would be a way to encourage people to shop locally.
“Town centres may be busy but are they spending money? It’s the first two hours in the morning when our shoppers are coming into town,” said Cllr Evans.
She said, as she was not a member of the committee, she could not make a recommendation, but implored someone to follow her suggestion of one specified car park free from 8-11am weekdays in Aberaeron, Lampeter and Cardigan to “give us some parity with Aberystwyth”.
She was supported by Cllr Morgan, who changed her earlier suggestion to the three towns, albeit to 8-10am, which was backed by fellow committee members.
The specific details of which car parks would be involved have not yet been finalised.
The car parks proposal, along with potential charging on Aberystwyth promenade, will now be considered at a future Cabinet meeting, expected to be September.
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