MARKET traders in Wrexham say new charges introduced in council-owned car parks don’t go far enough to revive town centre trade.
Businesses reported enjoying a boost in footfall during December’s free parking initiative across the town. But the start of the new year has seen Wrexham Council usher in a new streamlined structure for parking fees – including some increased charges – in a bid to keep shoppers in the town for longer.
However, several traders in Wrexham’s market community believe only a big reduction in charges will stop the exodus of town centre custom to cheaper or no-pay locations such as Broughton Shopping Park.
Lynsey Jervis, of RKM Wools in the People’s Market, said: “Some of my customers go to Broughton and Shrewsbury now – there is nothing to come into Wrexham for and there is not enough footfall for shop owners like myself.
“If the parking was cheaper it would bring more people in. I was on holiday in Tenby and I only had to pay 50 pence all day.”
Among the changes the council has tweaked short-stay provision with an extra hour providing motorists with a one-to-three hour tariff for £1.80. Cllr David A Bithell, lead member for environment and transport, says this will allow shoppers to spend more time in town and explained: “The new tariffs will bring all our car parks in the town centre into line with one another. It ensures that we have a parking pricing structure in place which reflects the demands for parking in the town centre.”
But some traders believe minimum charges of £1 for an hour’s stay (across all nine car parks) should be halved to accommodate both traders and shoppers planning shorter trips.
Ms Jervis pointed out: “I don’t know why the council doesn’t do a one-hour for 50 pence to help get people coming into town. When we had free parking in December we had a lot of people in the shop.”
Dennis Morgan, an assistant at Mad4Movies in the Butchers’ Market, said: “We could do with there being a basic charge for business people who need to pop in and out of their shops to bring
“Parking is too expensive in Wrexham. They need to get prices down to a bare minimum to attract people back into town. I think there should be a maximum charge across the board for all car parks and length of time.”
Tracey Rogers, who runs Tracey’s Cafe in the Butchers’ Market, with her husband, David, added: “We should have a special rate to park, the rise to £2.50 a day in the People’s Market is too much. It now costs us £48 a month to park so we can get in to run the cafe. We are already paying the council, but as traders we are struggling and don’t get much help.”
David added: “People can go to Mold and they only pay 50 pence for two hours.”
Mike Humphreys-Jones, commenting on the Leader’s Facebook page said: “Trials need to be put in place for free parking not just in December but throughout the year to prove that free parking increases the numbers of people in town. Shops certainly monitor footfall before opening branches hence the number of empty ones in town.”
While the cost of all-day parking at Ty Pawb/People’s Market has risen (to £2.50) the all-day fee in the council’s largest car park at Waterworld is down to £3 and a six-month parking permit has been cut from £350 to £300.
Ruth Rees of Martin Rees Jeweller and Pawnbroker in Chester Street said: “I’m hoping that increasing the time for short-stay parking will encourage people to stay that little bit longer and have a wander around the independent quarter.
“We have been asking for it for a long time and I am also glad the Waterworld all-day charge has come down.”
Ruth adds that even where there have been price increases, she feels traders will still benefit in the long term.