The challenges facing Britain’s high streets do not ignore Much Wenlock. On-line shopping and the fast-changing pub/restaurant scene are having an impact on our retailers and hospitality businesses just as much as those elsewhere.
I have been campaigning for sensible off-street parking charges in Much Wenlock for many months. For historic reasons, off-street car parking is free in some other Shropshire towns, for instance Broseley and Craven Arms. Whilst the ambition of some local residents would be for off-street parking to be free in Much Wenlock, I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen. Wenlock is an attractive place to live and to visit, and the car parks provide about £50,000 p.a. income for Shropshire Council’s hard-pressed coffers.
I had begun to sound like a stuck record (this won’t mean much to the “download” generation) in saying that increasing charges in Falcons Court car park – which is frequently deserted – won’t get any cars off the Wenlock streets and won’t generate any extra income for Shropshire Council. So, happily, after months of pressing the issue and walking around the town with the officers responsible for devising the new, cross-county, proposals and for parking enforcement, I’ve made some progress.
Shropshire Council now proposes to make the following amendments to its off-street Traffic Regulation Orders for Falcons Court Car park. They will be the same as New Road car park:
£0.30 per hour
£10 for a weekly ticket
£192 for off-street annual residents permits
The comparison with the current situation is starkly favourable:
At every interval up to ten hours, Falcons Court car park will be cheaper than it is currently. That will, of course, be of little benefit unless the vehicular and pedestrian access is clearly signposted. This is something which both Shropshire Council and Much Wenlock Town Council can influence. And Falcons Court will be cheaper than St Mary’s Lane car park, hopefully relieving the pressure there.
A number of local residents have written well-informed and hard-hitting comments about the proposals at every point throughout these consultations. Hopefully the revised regime will also satisfy Much Wenlock Town Council, who wrote in response to the proposals:
“a) The Town Council is disappointed at the proposed short time limit and requests that the first 15 minutes should be free (as before).
b) Falcon’s Court (Much Wenlock) parking charges should be reduced to encourage more use. This car park is hardly ever used because people think it is for residents parking only. It needs better signage to encourage more use.
c) Residents parking permits should be contemporary as with other towns.”
So let’s hope that, combined with new signage, this attractive pricing policy will get more cars off the streets and more people into our shops, pubs and cafés. I’m not yet sure of the implementation date for these changes, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.