TRADERS in Wrexham say there have been fewer cars in the town’s car parks this week as the increase in parking charges kicks in.
Last year Wrexham Council voted in favour of increasing par king charges across the town to help plug the budget deficit.
The car parks involved are those at the library, Market Street, St George’s Crescent, St Giles, Waterworld, People’s Market and in Crescent Road.
The controversial changes – which came into force on Monday – means parking for up to one hour has gone up from 60p to £1; between one hour and two hours from £1.20 to £1.50; and the evening charge rise from 50p to £1.
Free parking at the People’s Market and Crescent Road car parks – which before Monday was available from noon – has moved to the later time of 3pm, similar to the ‘Free After Three’ parking deals in Chester and Ellesmere Port.
The new charges have been in place for less than a week but traders in Wrexham town centre said they had already seen a decrease in parking and as a result a drop in custom.
Alex Jones, who owns the Bank Bar on High Street, said a lot of his customers use the St Giles Car Park.
He said: “Since these charges have come in I must say I have had a bad week.
“Customers have mentioned to me they don’t have time now to eat after shopping, for example, because of the higher charges.
“St Giles Car Park was always full and up until this week you could never get a space on it, but now you can just drive straight on.
“I can’t see how it is fair to put the prices up by 100 per cent.
“How is that going to help the town and businesses?
“People are not averse to driving out of town for free or cheaper parking.”
Traders and stallholders at the People’s Market said its car park had had fewer cars in it this week after the free parking window was moved from noon to 3pm.
Lynn Price, who runs Craft Corner, said; “This week there has been no problem getting a parking space.
“Parking at 3pm is a bit too late for families.
“If it was still the earlier time then parents would come shopping without the children. But at 3pm they are doing the school runs.
“It would be better if they changed it back.”
Jeff Hough, of Jeff’s Furniture, said the car parks had been quieter.
“It could just be the weather, but I have to say there is no logic in this decision.
“The people who used the car park are mainly young women who have children and it was ideal for them when the free parking was earlier, but 3pm is just far too late, and of course this is going to have a knock-on effect on traders.”
Wrexham Council said it was too early to gauge the effect of the changes.
A spokesman said: “The new council car parking charges were only introduced this week and we collate parking figures on a week by week basis.”