TRADERS and community leaders in a town which fought for free parking for a quarter of a century are now calling for the charges to be brought back in after less than five months.
Fees levied on motorists stopping in Holywell were scrapped in October, meaning people can now park in council-owned car parks in the town free of charge.
The car parks affected are located at Tower Gardens, at the top of Well Hill, at the old Somerfield site and near the Lidl store.
Flintshire councillor Rosetta Dolphin, of Holywell, estimated more than 200 parking places were affected.
Campaigners who had fought for free parking for about 25 years said they were jubilant.
But now – less than five months since the new arrangements came in – some are claiming overflowing car parks and a lack of spaces are “killing trade”.
Holywell Mayor Cllr Ted Palmer said parking officers are now monitoring the car parks in the town after rumours commuters working in places as far away as Chester are parking up in Holywell for the day before sharing a lift to work.
They want the a review of the situation and members of Holywell’s Town Centre Sub Committee will meet with representatives from Flintshire Council to find a way out of the “nightmare”.
Cllr Palmer said: “The situation is under review at the moment. We said a long time ago that something would need to be done. There should be a short stay limit I think.”
He added: “At the end of the day the town council have fought for this for 25 years so we can’t rock the boat.
“We were all saying the car parking charges were killing the town. Now they have gone and people are saying the same.
“There are rumours people are car sharing and they are meeting at the car parks then going to work. The car parks are being monitored now.”
The decision to scrap the 20p charge it used to cost to park in Holywell was greeted with widespread acclaim in October.
But since the introduction, businesses and shoppers said the move had been “detrimental”, fearing visitors cannot find anywhere to park and are being driven away from the town.
Helena Aspinall, who lives in Gorsedd, said she usually drives into Holywell four times a week.
Mrs Aspinall said: “Visitors and shoppers to the town cannot find parking spaces.
“There is a particular problem in the Somerfield car park which is adjacent to the library.
“The car park behind Mr Bevan's is apparently full at 7.30am.
She added: “It is an absolute nightmare, it is having a knock-on effect on trade.”
In response to the concerns raised Cllr Bernie Attridge, Flintshire Council cabinet member for environment, said: “A comprehensive review of off-street car parking charges across the county, including Holywell and Mold, was carried out by Flintshire Council prior to the introduction of civil parking enforcement.
“Holywell Town Council made it clear during the consultation process they were categorically against the retention of car parking charges in the town centre.
“Flintshire Council believes this was a retrograde step and will encourage longer term parking in county council owned car parks in town centres.
“Any sustained long term parking in Holywell town centre county council owned car parks will clearly have a detrimental impact on the viability and vitality of a town centre as it displaces those town centre visitors.
“As the removal of parking charges was only introduced in October it would appear there is already a perception car park spaces in county council owned car parks in Holywell town centre are not available for shoppers any longer with those bays being occupied by long term parking.
“This was an issue Flintshire Council clearly drew attention to early on in the discussions about the options for charges in its off-street car parks."