HOPES that increased car parking charges may be offset if customers spend enough money in shops have been dashed.
Under the proposed system, motorists would pay for a parking ticket in one of Wrexham’s car parks.
If they then spend over a certain amount in a nominated store, that store would then refund or partly-refund the ticket price.
But Cllr Neil Rogers, leader of Wrexham Council, said spending £13,000 on replacing existing tickets and altering ‘pay and display’ machines to accommodate the proposed scheme was “not viable” due to the “unprecedented” cuts the authority is facing.
Speaking at the Wrexham Town Centre Forum meeting yesterday, Cllr Rogers said the funding was simply not available as councils faced the toughest time of his 34-year career as an elected councillor.
“Last year was the toughest time for local government since I was first elected in 1979,” he said.
“This year is going to be tougher still and the following year will be even harder – so I must say we haven’t got the £13,000 required to implement a scheme like this.
“When we put it to the public to ask for ideas on how we could save money and reduce our deficit, one of the things suggested by many people was an increase in parking charges.”
Council members confirmed at the forum that it would cost £7,000 to alter the ticket machines across the town and a further £6,000 for new parking tickets to be issued per year.
In October, the council’s executive board voted 6-3 in favour of increasing parking charges.
The car parks involved include the library, Market Street, St George’s Crescent, St Giles, Waterworld, People’s Market and Crescent Road.
The changes involve a stay of up to one hour increasing from 60p to £1; a stay between one hour and two hours rising from £1.20 to £1.50; while the evening charge would rise from 50p to £1.
Cllr Hugh Taylor said the council owned town centre car parks were currently operating at 85 per cent capacity, hitting the council’s target.
He added the charges were necessary to ensure “Wrexham remains competitive” and prices in other shopping hubs such as Chester had been considered when implementing the charges.
Phillip Clare, of Tudor House Investment Services, Chester Street, said he had spoken to businesses about the idea for reimbursed parking charges and the response had been “unanimously positive”.
“I went into independent and national retailers and they were very keen on the policy,” he said.
“The machines would need to be altered and the tickets would require a peel off strip for the customer.”
Mr Clare and Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said that, in light of Cllr Rogers’ comments, they would look into the possibility of introducing a scheme for private car parks in the town, which equates to 80 per cent of the town’s available car parking spaces.