FLINTSHIRE looks set to become completely free of parking charges following a dramatic u-turn.

Proposals had been put forward to increase the current 20p fee in operation in Holywell and Mold, and introduce charges elsewhere.

But Flintshire Council’s deputy leader and executive member Cllr Tony Sharps made the surprise revelation yesterday that parking charges in Holywell and Mold are due to be removed, with no new charges to be implemented in the rest of the county.

Although the proposal is subject to ratification at full council, it was greeted with celebration in the communities where controversial parking charges were due to be imposed.

Cllr Bernie Attridge hailed the fight put up by residents in his Connah’s Quay ward and other communities threatened with the parking charges.

He said: “This is a red letter day for the people of Buckley, Connah’s Quay, Flint and Shotton.

“I believe this u-turn is due to protests that have taken place and the petitions. Had these charges gone through they would have been the final nail in our town centres’ coffin.”

Several hundred Deeside residents signed a petition circulated by Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant opposing the planned introduction of the charges.

Cllr Sharps added Flintshire also intends to implement a Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) policy before the year ends, which will see the county responsible for parking offences on its roads and it will therefore receive the funding from fines.

He told the Leader: “This will mean there is no car parking charges in Flintshire. The status quo will remain in place for the next six to eight months but after that people in Mold and Holywell will no longer have to pay.

“We believe in encouraging people to come here and our parking policies are in line with that.”

Cllr Sharps said the next few months will be used to train enforcement officers.

Connah’s Quay member Cllr Aaron Shotton said he welcomed the principle of free parking, but he questioned how the council would deal with not making the extra £188,000 it had projected in next year’s budget when it is trying to make savings.

Mr Sharps replied that the money will come from fines through introducing CPE.

Colin Everett, Flintshire’s chief executive, said the authority would be working on the assumption CPE and free parking would be introduced.

Mold councillor Haydn Bateman said: “I believe this is good news for Mold.

“Nobody wants to pay for things but at least the charge has only been 20p.”

During yesterday’s corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee meeting where the announcement was made, council leader Cllr Arnold Woolley disputed
Cllr Attridge’s claim that the authority had performed a “u-turn” on the matter amid public pressure.

He said the administration had remained “open, transparent and accountable” since being elected in 2008.