CARMARTHENSHIRE Labour have launched a campaign to introduce one hour free car parking for all Council-owned car parks in Carmarthenshire and a reduced season ticket in an effort to support retailers as lockdown eases in Wales.
With over 15,000 parking spaces being made available per annum, this policy has the potential to provide a major incentive to increase footfall in the towns and support the county’s recovery out of covid.
Currently, Carmarthenshire Council offer free car parking Monday to Wednesday 10am to 2pm in its car parks in St Clears, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandovery, Llandeilo and Ammanford, with Llanelli car parks being free Monday and Tuesday and Carmarthen Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Carmarthenshire Labour argue the current policy is not widely known by the public and is confusing, believing that the first hour free regardless of the time of day or day of the week would encourage residents to shop local and support local businesses. The opposition group also highlight the lack of savings for retailers and shop workers under the current season ticket policy, pointing to neighbouring authorities that provide a much more generous discount.
The example provided by Labour is that a season ticket for Llandovery costs £370 per annum, with a day ticket costing £1.70. If you are a local shop worker working 5 days a week, they save just £21 a year. Alternatively, the same shop worker would receive a 60% discount in Brecon.
Launching their campaign in Llandovery, Opposition Leader, Cllr Rob James, stated “This policy has been developed from conversations with local business owners across Carmarthenshire.
“The current policy is confusing with different times of the day and different days of the week being free in each car park. We need a simple policy – the first hour free all day, every day. This easily marketable and the local residents will buy into the scheme, preferring to shop local than travel to visit out of town retailers.
“Plaid Cymru-led Council’s decision to increase car parking charges during the pandemic has not been well received and we feel more needs to be done to support local businesses as lockdown eases in Wales.
“We need to support local businesses, just as they supported us during this pandemic and we believe that this policy will generate a more needed increase in footfall in our town centres.