A CONTROVERSIAL plan to impose charges for on-street parking in Wrexham town centre has been killed off by council chiefs.

But the authority’s leader has strongly denied that the decision was a policy U-turn.

The scheme to charge drivers to park in roadside bays across the town which are currently free to use for up to half an hour has caused uproar since it was first revealed earlier this year.

Leading the attack have been town centre traders, who claimed fees of 50p for 30 minutes and £1 for an hour would severely damage their business and mean many of them having to pay to park outside their own premises.

The chorus of criticism reached a high point at a heated meeting between traders’ leaders and council chiefs.

Traders were backed by a group of senior councillors who had called for a special full council meeting this week to discuss the issue and vote on scrapping the plan.

The council had recently begun a consultation exercise with traders and others affected by the proposal.

But this has now been brought to an abrupt end by a dramatic announcement that the proposal has been scrapped.

A formal recommendation to kill it off will be put before the  executive board next Tuesday.

Council leader Cllr Ron Davies, who came under attack for using his casting vote to ensure the scheme was not ditched and went out to consultation during a vote by board members on June 7, said: “This is not a U-turn. To have a U-turn you have to be going in one direction and we were out to consultation on this.

“I have never voted for on-street parking charges – my casting was was about consultation.

“We have cut the consultation short as it showed many people do not want any form of on-street parking and we are happy to take that on board.”

Cllr Davies said the consultation exercise had also revealed the council was not doing enough to talk to town centre traders.

Deputy council leader and lead member for transport Cllr David Bithell added: “These are very difficult and challenging times both for local businesses.

“We have taken on board their views and comments and recognise the concerns raised in the consultation process carried out.”

The council says that a number of other “issues, ideas and opportunities” emerged from the consultation, which will be further considered.