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.

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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.

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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.