Car park charges – the last stand

Shropshire Council carried out a consultation in the summer of 2017 about its new car parking strategy. I wrote about it then and repeatedly expressed my concerns about empty car parks and Much Wenlock’s streets full of cars.

Shropshire Council is now proposing to make an Order (the legal means of putting in place its revised charging structure) and is required to go out to public consultation. The details uploaded to its website were confusing and incomplete and, as a result, the consultation period is extended to 6th June 2018. Now, all of the detail is there, in the document at the bottom of the page. You can take part here.

So far as Much Wenlock is concerned this applies to off-street parking – the car parks in New Road, Back Lane, St Mary’s Lane and Falcons Court. The price bands are the same as set out in the 2017 consultation (which I reported in July 2017) as are the linear pricing proposals.

The proposal said that “These changes are intended to improve overall parking service provision, promote the efficient use and management of car parks and be a contributing factor in reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, minimising congestion and improve vibrancy in market towns.” I disagree with the thrust of this insofar as Much Wenlock is concerned.

  • It does nothing “to improve parking service provision”. We will still have empty spaces in Falcons Court, a car park that is one minute’s walk from the High Street. The car parks are only all full during the Much Wenlock Christmas Fayre – one day in the year. This isn’t “efficient use and management” of the car parks.
David in Falcons Court car park, 29th May 2018
David in Falcons Court car park, 29th May 2018
  • I cannot understand how this will reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. There is nothing in the proposals that will discourage motorists from driving around the streets of the town trying to find a free space as they do at present. Stand in Ryan’s queue on a busy morning and watch the same cars pass you more than once.
  • On their own, the proposals will not relieve congestion. Cars will still park on the double yellow lines in Barrow Street and the corner of The Square. Cars will still belch exhaust fumes as drivers jockey for an on-street space in the High Street by the shops.
  • They will not “improve vibrancy” (presumably economic vibrancy). Barclays Bank’s Much Wenlock branch is scheduled to close in October 2018. In its proposal the bank suggest that customers can use their facilities in Madeley or Bridgnorth. Both have supermarkets where you can park for free.

This brings us on to residents’ permits and season permits. These are available, surprisingly, in all four car parks. I say surprisingly because Back Lane is a small car park, close to the High Street and is best suited to a quick throughput of users. Concentrating long-term parking in the under-used Falcons Court and off-centre New Road car parks, would have been more sensible.

The 32 residents’ parking permits are available for those with addresses highlighted on this map:

I find that the proposed annual charges, especially for St Mary’s Lane and Falcons Court, are astonishingly high.It does strike me that the income that Shropshire Council is likely to generate from residents’ permits would be far greater if the charges were more reasonable.

If you wish to raise an objection, express support or make any other comments about these proposals please send an e-mail to: traffic.engineering@shropshire.gov.uk by 6 June 2018.