NEW parking restrictions could hit town centres hard, a community leader has warned.
Buckley councillor Richard Jones is pleading with Flintshire Council to scrap plans for new parking charges in several town centre car parks in the county.
He fears charging shoppers to park could result in town centres losing traders to out-
of-town shopping centres, which do not charge shoppers to park.
“When people make the decision where to shop, they want to know it’s easy to park, value for money and a good shopping experience,” said Cllr Jones.
“The temptation to ‘go online’ or go to the Greyhound Park, Cheshire Oaks or Broughton Shopping Park will become more attractive when weighed against visiting a town that charges for car parking.
“It’s no coincidence that the places I’ve mentioned don’t charge for parking.
“They know they are in competition with our local shops, in our towns. By adopting these recommendations, we lose the battle and lose our town centre experience.”
The planned new charges are part of plans to revamp the parking system in Flintshire, with the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement on streets in the county.
Cllr Jones said he did not oppose enforcing legislation that helps allow the movement of traffic but draws the line at car park charges being enforced for shoppers.
He was one of several Buckley councillors to call in a motion against the plans, which will now go back to the council’s executive.
But he said his concerns are about towns across Flintshire and not just Buckley.
“I fear for our towns if these recommendations are adopted,” he added.
“All the good work completed within regeneration strategies will be lost as developers look to other possibilities, the towns that are not fully developed and require investment will be overlooked as other more fruitful places ‘out of the county’ appear more supported.
“If we want to retain and improve Flintshire towns, we need to make them a better choice.”
Should the new parking charges be brought in, they would apply in Buckley, Connah’s Quay and Flint. Charges are already in place in Mold and Holywell, with Holywell councillors having called for the charges to be scrapped at a town council meeting last month.
No new car park charges would be imposed in Queensferry, Saltney, Shotton or Talacre.
Under the plans, motorists would pay 20p per hour for up to three hours or £2 all day, but with free parking to be introduced after 3pm.
The parking issue is due to go back before the authority’s cabinet later this month.
Speaking at the council meeting when the decision was called in, Cllr Aaron Shotton, leader of Flintshire Council, said having car parking charges can have positive benefits.
“There are alternative arguments to say it does help and assists in terms of freeing up spaces that need to be available,” he said. “Mold has argued for car parking charges to be in place.”