Car parking proposed charges – bad news for Much Wenlock?*

Much Wenlock is a charming town, loved by residents and visitors alike. But, like many such places, the motor car is a blessing and a curse. With limited public transport available, cars and coaches are the principal means of visiting the town. Before the development of Telford new town and the growth of commuting to jobs there, and to the West Midlands, Much Wenlock was a small market town whose economic activity was largely agriculture and limestone quarrying. While its transformation in the past fifty years with the advent of new housing estates has been largely positive, nearly all of the attractive traditional stone cottages and brick terraces which line the streets have no off-street car parking area.

As a result, the streets are lined with parked cars – as they are in many other historic towns. Meanwhile, it is rare that Much Wenlock’s car parks are full. Unless there is a major event taking place in the town it is virtually unknown for Falcons Court and New Road car parks to see more than a handful of cars. This is not only the case during the day when the shops and cafés are open, but also at night. Currently, Shropshire Council’s car parks in Much Wenlock are free overnight, but they are little-used by residents.

A consultation was carried out recently regarding on-street parking, loading bays and a disabled parking bay.  Whilst public comments resulted in some alterations to those proposals, they haven’t been implemented yet. Similarly, efforts to keep unnecessary HGVs off the streets of Much Wenlock seem to have stalled at present. I’m pushing hard to get these schemes in place but meanwhile a Shropshire-wide car parking proposal may make matters worse.

People are to be asked for their views on Shropshire Council’s new draft parking strategy. The current charging arrangements were introduced in 2012 and a lot has changed in the intervening five years. The proposals include:

  • ‘Linear’ (set price per hour) parking, pricing bands, unrestricted parking, evening parking, loading bays and ‘pop and shop’ parking.
  • A new policy and tariff framework for weekly tickets, season tickets, residents’ off-street permits, and for coach and HGV parking.
  • Changes to Shropshire’s Council’s on-street residents’ parking permit scheme.
  • Changes to the car parking waiver system.

Each of these proposals will have stand-alone consultations. Clearly, some of these options will not apply in Much Wenlock but there are changes proposed for the town.Fullscreen capture 12-Jul-17 92144 AMI urge you to respond both in respect of changes that would be proposed to affect residents of and visitors to Much Wenlock; and how parking elsewhere in the county will affect drivers from Much Wenlock. Modern, cashless, methods of payment are included in the proposals.

The proposals are extensive and there is not sufficient space here to set them out.  Suffice to say, one hour’s parking in St Mary’s Lane and Falcons Court car parks is proposed to be 50p compared to the 90p current charge.  Three hours would be cheaper than at present.

Fullscreen capture 12-Jul-17 90745 AM

The “linear” charging proposal means that longer stays in these and in the less popular New Road car park will be more expensive than the current regime.

Fullscreen capture 12-Jul-17 84921 AM

Back Lane car park is the only one that visitors to the town see as they drive into the High Street. Currently waiting is limited to one hour, Monday to Saturday. The proposal, whilst expensive, would mean that visitors could park all day, which may have an impact on convenience for shoppers and thus the local economy.Fullscreen capture 12-Jul-17 84933 AM

In summary, the proposed off-street car parking charges per hour in Much Wenlock are:

St Mary’s Lane – 50p

Falcons Court – 50p

New Road – 30p

Back Lane – 70p

I will write separately about season tickets and other aspects of the proposals in due course.

During the consultation period, Shropshire Council intends to set up information stands in many towns including Much Wenlock. The consultation will available on-line on Shropshire Council’s website and in the library until mid-September.

The consultation not only seeks your comments on the proposals, but also any alternative suggestions that you might have. Of course, you may have observations about how the proposed strategy might affect Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth or other towns that many of us visit.

* Health warning – I have extracted this information from the draft consultation which was approved by Shropshire Council’s Cabinet on 12th July 2017. I have endeavoured to represent it accurately so far as Much Wenlock is concerned, but I urge you to refer to the official consultation document when you make your comments.

9 Responses to “Car parking proposed charges – bad news for Much Wenlock?*”

  • Libby:

    I think parking should be free like in Broseley.
    If not possible, I think we should continue to have the 15minute free. I would be interested to know how much money is collected from Wenlock car parks. Can it really cover the cost of 2 people and a van to collect it daily? Maybe that’s why phone payment is being considered? I have asked this question before with no response. Much better to make it free, or make it reasonable ( including season ticket?) For workers who need to park all day.

    • davidturner:

      Libby, I agree with much of what you say. I haven’t got the most recent car park income figures, but happily new machines proposed under the consultation will accommodate the use of cards and mobile phones (when there’s a decent signal!). This should reduce the need for such frequent collections. I’m afraid that the world in which we live requires two folk on such jobs for the safety of the workers. It was simpler a while ago…

      Please keep an eye on my Facebook Page or Twitter account for further updates and please, please respond to the consultation when its published next weekend. Thanks for your comments.

  • Sarah Stenton:

    Hi David, do the county council get enough revenue from council tax to offer free parking or subsidised permits for locals and traders? I only ask because Much Wenlock is an affluent area so will have plenty of band D and above homes paying an awful lot of council tax, yet we don’t use council services (police, fire, rubbish etc) more than anyone else – perhaps less because it is a low crime area. Parking is a local issue and I personally feel it should be decided on locally rather than generically by Shropshire council. Good luck anyway!

    • davidturner:

      I’ve already made it clear that, in my opinion, one size does not fit all and I encourage you to offer your thoughts in the consultation when it launches this weekend.

      As regards revenue funding free parking – in short the answer is “no”. There are rules as to how the income from car parking can be used and I’ll endeavour to write about this in the near future. I had an interesting conversation with a Police Chief Superintendent about the PCC precept vs. low crime areas a couple of years ago. I’ll drop into you place and share it with you when I’m passing next.

  • I agree that the free first 15 mins is of direct benefit for residents and their use of our local retailers. But using “mobile phones” in MUCH WENLOCK??? Obviously, that has not been proposed by any local. We ALL know about the town centre dip.
    I also understand the H&S requirements for those collecting the loot … but every day seems an unnecessary expenditure of taxPAYERS money.
    As for the Back Lane charges, the proposed HUGE increases, especially as this IS the first car park for most visitors arrival in town, will probably put off the vast majority from ever returning … as they will hardly undertake a round robin of the available parking options to research the price options. At the very least, our local economy will require large, readable notices to guide unhappy visitors to the other elsewheres, if Shropshire Councils all too common and convenient “one-size-fits-all” policy is not to destroy what we local taxPAYERS value SO MUCH, a readily available source for daily needs, provided with the increasingly rare SERVICE with a SMILE.

    • davidturner:

      I’ve already made the point at Shropshire Council’s Cabinet (you can see it here at 34:17 about the mobile phone signal – see my comments elsewhere about good news on mobile signal. I’ve already, ahead of the consultation opening, made it clear that one size does not fit all – we need to encourage greater use of the car parks rather than simply putting up the price. Empty car parks (e.g. Falcons Court) do not respond to increasing the charge! Thanks for your comments and I encourage you to offer your thoughts in the consultation when it launches this weekend.

  • Chris Tyler:

    There is no doubt that we need to continue to encourage visitors/tourists to Much Wenlock in the expectation that they will spend on the High Street, My experience of a similar problem was with Tetenhall where a centre car park was free but it filled with employees who left cars in spaces all day with the result that visitor levels dropped off. The council overcame this by still offering free parking but for a 3 hour maximum stay which was, and is, monitored with no return for 1 hour. Modern technology can undertake this form of monitoring effortlessly. The shopkeepers found this to be more useful and business picked up. Judicious use of double yellow lines maintained a good traffic flow and relatively close by side street parking allowed employees to park without being well away from their place of work. I would suggest that High Street, St Mary’s Road and Falcons Court should be used in this way (other than for those residents who have a permit). New Road can be used for those employees who have to travel by car to work. There is relative stability in shop ownership and Tettenhall is thriving.
    In M W’s case, the reduction of income from the car parks has to be factored in but, as long as we maintain the town as a welcome, clean and attractive place to visit the increase in activity will lead to a wealthier town for all to enjoy.

    • davidturner:

      Thanks for your comments and I encourage you to offer your thoughts in the consultation when it launches this weekend.

  • […] Car parking proposed charges – bad news for Much Wenlock?* […]

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David Turner

Woodhouse Farm
Much Wenlock
TF13 6NZ

01952 728802
Shropshire Council
The views expressed on this website are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Conservative Councillors' Association or the Conservative Party.