29 November, 2012
Change to car parking charges
Newport City Council is introducing a new parking offer in its own car parks in February which will offer a longer stay at a reduced rate compared to the present offer.
“There is no doubt that the free parking offer contributed to an increase in footfall in the city centre and we were approached by traders to provide a longer period so people would stay for longer.
“However, the free parking costs the council almost £1 million a year which is no longer sustainable at a time when central budgets are facing significant cuts. To continue to offer free parking would adversely impact on other services such as street cleaning, waste collection and road repairs.
“Instead, the council has looked for a comprise by offering a nominal £1 charge for three hours which we hope will still encourage people to visit the city centre and stay for longer. It is also cheaper than the current cost of staying for three hours and will also raise funds to help maintain the car parks and other essential services in the city centre.
“We do realise it is important to support the retailers and they had reported that Christmas was a critical time for their businesses so the decision was taken to offer five hours free parking during the vital festive and sales period. This will cost the council an estimated £79,000.
“Many people point to Cwmbran Shopping, but the car parks are operated by the same private company that own the shopping centre and it is able to balance rental income from traders with this free offer.
“Newport City Council does not receive rental income from retailers in the city centre and business rates are set nationally and are collected by the council on behalf of the Welsh government.
“We did not feel it was appropriate at this time to ask traders to contribute financially to sustain free parking. In Swansea, the Business Improvement District makes a financial contribution to its free parking offer.
“This £1 for three hours charge is lower than our surrounding councils – for example, in Rhondda Cynon Taff it is £2.30 for three hours and in Monmouth £1.30 for three hours.
“We have tried to offer the best possible option in difficult financial circumstances and we feel it balances the needs of the city centre with the constraints placed on local government budgets. We are facing a funding gap of around £8 million next year.”
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