TRADERS and shoppers in Wrexham have said the council’s decision to raise car parking fees could be ‘the death of the town’s markets.
On Tuesday Wrexham Council approved an increase in parking costs at a meeting of the local authority’s executive board and the move includes the removal of the popular ‘free from midday’ scheme.
Free parking at the People’s Market and Crescent Road car parks – currently available from noon - will move to the later time of 3pm.
Other car parks involved in the changes include those at the library, Market Street, St George’s Crescent, St Giles and Waterworld, with some seeing a 100 per cent rise.
Karen Edwards, of Rhos, who regularly uses the town’s free parking after noon said the move to 3pm could be catastrophic for the town centre.
“This is just a senseless decision,” she said.
“I understand the need to raise cash with all the council cuts but free after noon has been a good thing for shoppers. It could be the death of the markets, especially the indoor.”
At the library car park, which is operational seven-days-a-week, the changes will see the cost of a stay of up to one hour increasing from 60p to £1; a stay of between one hour and two hours rising from £1.20 to £1.50, and the evening charge rising from 50p to £1.
“Instead of parking for free it’s going to cost a few quid to park for a couple of hours plus we will have the hassle of using the pay and displays,” added Mrs Edwards.
“If someone wants to nip into town on their lunch hour they could park for free. Are they really going to bother now?”
Michael and Eileen Mullen, who have been market traders in Wrexham for 25 years, said she feared for future generations of market traders.
Mr Mullen said: “I sympathise with the council as the money has got to come from somewhere. But since free parking here in the People’s Market was introduced it has been successful with a clear boost for trade. Traders are struggling as it is without a price increase.”
Mrs Mullen, who runs Sweet Sensations Pick ‘n’ Mix in the People’s Market, said: “It’s a bit rich from the council that they are going to make people pay for the extra three hours when we read in the paper that the Mayor has cost the council £400,000 over the past few years.
“I’ll cease trading before long due to my age but I fear for the next generation of traders.”
Jeff Hought, of Jeff’s Furniture store, said: “People pick their kids up from school at 3pm, that’s why the free after midday scheme works well. Is it really going to make a major difference to how much the council brings in from the People’s Market and Crescent car parks? I can only see it harming trade here.”
Julie Mullen, who runs J Carpets, said: “It’s a decision which lacks common sense. The next two months are the busiest in the run-up to Christmas but if people have to pay for their parking they’ll end up in Chester or Broughton instead.”