“UNHELPFUL” plans to increase car parking charges in four Monmouthshire towns would “kill trade”, Chepstow business owners have said.
A report, commissioned by the council from engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, proposes an increase to hourly parking rates by 20p and to introduce Sunday charging in council car parks in Chepstow, Abergavenny, Monmouth and Usk.
Charges for long and short stays in the council’s car parks are currently 80p for two hours, £1.30 for three hours and £1.80 for four hours. Five hours costs £2.80 and increases by a pound with every extra hour.
All-day stays cost £3.50.
Carol Hobday, who runs the Dragonfly Vintage Emporium on Bank Street with her husband Paul, said they felt the plans would would drive trade away and to out-of-town shopping centres in bigger areas.
She said: “I don’t think it’ll be helpful. We think it’ll kill trade.”
Councillors on the economy and development select committee will discuss the plans at County Hall in Usk tomorrow(Thursday).
Other plans which would see “over-complicated” parking charges simplified are included in the report. It recommends a flat rate for two hours for £1, £2 for between three and four hours and £4 for all-day parking across Monmouthshire.
But the manager of the Bradley BarberShop on Nelson Street in Chepstow said her customers were frustrated already that they had to pay for their parking when they only wanted to visit the shop for a quick haircut.
Tracy Cameron said: “Chepstow’s dead anyway. It’s full of charity shops. An increase would only put people off. I think they should consider a decrease, if anything.”
The report recommends charging for night parking in Monmouth, Chepstow and Abergavenny, and that charging for people with blue badges is implemented by 2016/17.
It says a ‘no return’ policy in all car parks should be implemented and that the county’s ticket machines should be replaced with more modern ones.
But it also recommends free parking remains in Caldicot.
Committee member Cllr Armand Watts said he thought car parking charges were unsuitable.
He said: “If we’re serious about the local economy and that it has some future the last thing they should be doing is adding a deterrent.”