A TASK and Finish report which was intended to ‘research different approaches to car parking charges that could be applied in the county’ has been criticised for failing to suggest any real changes to the status quo.
The Task and Finish group was commissioned last year, following numerous petitions for free parking in Carmarthenshire and the implementation of a reduced trial in Llanelli.
The group, comprised of cross-party members of the Environmental and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee, was also c harged with evaluating a pay-on-exit system for Llanelli multi-storey car park.
The report found, based on a number of national reports and the council’s own data, that there was a need for parking charges, not least to ensure vehicle turnover, and that the revenue was necessary to support infrastructure works, notably the refurbishment of Llanelli multi-storey car park which cost £1.8m in 2012.
However, it failed to reference other reports commissioned by neighbouring authorities which, while supportive of charging for parking, all point out that the revenue benefit of charging by local authorities needs to be weighed against the adverse effect of charging on town centre trade.
In spite of the significant variation in parking charges from town to town, it was claimed that ‘Carmarthenshire’s current charges were extremely competitive’ – something which must have come as news to Carmarthen visitors who paid more for 1-3 hours parking than any of the 15 towns across Wales referenced.
Other recommendations made to the group included re-instating free parking on Sundays, the introduction of ‘shop and drop’ initiatives in town centres, free parking on weekday afternoons, and the simplification of parking bands. None of these recommendations were endorsed, although it was suggested that ‘Where feasible, the Council introduces ‘shop and drop’ bays in the county’s towns, in proportion to the size of the town and spaces available, for a limited waiting time of up to 30 minutes.’
The cancelling of car parking charges on Sundays, it was warned, would cost the local authority £132,259 per year.
However, the report recommended that ‘free parking days’, should be increased from five to seven a year. At present free parking days are not permitted in December, and the report recommended that they should be prohibited in November as well. Given that Carmarthen enjoyed a notable increase in footfall by offering free parking on the last weekend in November last year, this is also unlikely to prove universally popular.
FREE PARKING DAYS
At present, free parking days are permitted if the days are agreed a month or more in advance, private sector car park operators are asked to match the council offer, and ‘the Council’s support is acknowledged in all marketing literature, adverts and publicity for events.’ Organisers are also ‘encouraged’ to advertise in ‘Carmarthenshire News’ – a selffunding newsletter put out by the council and other stakeholders.
The data for the free parking trial in Llanelli last year – which as The Herald reported at the time was somewhat less than what was requested – was not included in the report. However, the analysis stated that the one month trial of free parking between 3pm and 5pm had not led to any increases in footfall which could not be classed as being in line with trends or as a result of exceptional events. It was further found that ‘displacement’ meant that any increases in car park users were met with reductions when parking charges were in place.
A less official free parking trial in Cardigan last year, when traders reported large increases in footfall as the result of sabotaged meters, was also not considered.
ALUN LENNY SPEAKS TO THE HERALD
Cllr Alun Lenny, a town and county councillor in Carmarthen, was one of those who found the report somewhat underwhelming in its scope. Speaking to The Herald, Cllr Lenny stated his intention to question the Environment and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee on Friday (May 13).
“I am disappointed that this report seems to deny free parking is an effective economic lever, with no evidence I can see to substantiate that,” he said.
“The main objective of this report was to research different approaches to parking in Carmarthenshire. I would question the nature and scope of the research undertaken.
“They didn’t involve individuals or bodies, or give them the opportunity to present evidence in person, nor did they visit other towns and counties to carry out research.
“Instead, they based their research on figures and reports which were presented to them by the council’s own officers, without challenging these.
“In that case, as the Task and Finish Group report is based on little evidence other than that provided by council officers, I believe that the Scrutiny Committee should consider rejecting the report, on the basis that it has not fulfilled its own remit.”
Cllr Lenny also criticised the claims made about car parking charges in Carmarthenshire being ‘extremely competitive’.
“For 1-3 hours parking, Carmarthen is the most expensive on the list of towns in the report,” he remarked. Pointing out that charges varied from £1 to £3.40 across the county, he asked how these could be treated equally.
“This is just something cobbled together by officers – I have no doubt this is an officer-led report,” he added.
The claim that removing Sunday car parking charges would cost CCC more than £130,000 was also queried by Cllr Lenny, given that in 2013 when the charges were first announced it was estimated that they would earn around £70,000 in revenue for the council. “I hardly think our car parks are packed on Sundays,” he remarked.
The Scrutiny Committee will have the opportunity to make recommendations on the report on Friday, before it goes before the Executive Board and the Full Council at a later date.
Global Litter Charity has announced the date of its next Welsh litter picking event
THE UOCEAN Project, part of the Vayyu Foundation, which has set itself the target of removing 1 billion kilos of waste from the world’s oceans by 2030, will be holding its next litter collection taskforce event at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire.
Everyone is invited to join The UOcean Project volunteers and to make a difference by collecting litter, especially plastics, which are polluting our environment and ending up in the world’s oceans. The UOcean Project has highlighted the dramatic increase in litter from plastic bags to face masks since lockdown restrictions were lifted, making it even more important to clean-up and reduce waste pollution.
Chris Desai, head of The UOcean Project commented. “Picking up one plastic bottle or single use face mask may not appear to be significant, but at each event we are collecting many kilos of plastic because more and more individuals are joining our litter picking teams.
The combined collections here and overseas are the only way to make a difference and start fighting back against pollution.”
The UOcean Project organises litter pick-up teams who work across the UK, especially around coastlines, as well as internationally. By organising volunteers into Chapters and providing them with the tools and equipment to pick up litter, they have already collected 53,000 kilos of waste which would have ended up in the seas.
All volunteers are provided with the equipment needed to safely pick up litter so that it can be disposed of in the right way. For more information about The UOcean Project please go to the website www.theuoceanproject.com
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in Llanelli
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in
POLICE are warning drug users in Llanelli to take extra care following information received that dangerous valium is circulating in the area.
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that the drugs being distributed and used in the Llanelli area at present could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.
“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.
“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”
To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/
Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.
In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.
Parents warned to look out for respiratory illness in children
RESPIRATORY Syncytial Virus (RSV) is circulating amongst children and toddlers in the Hywel Dda area (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire)
Hywel Dda UHB Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Philip Kloer said: “Because of the COVID restrictions, there have been few cases of RSV during the pandemic, but this virus has returned and in higher numbers now people are mixing more.
“RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season, and causes very few problems to the majority of children. However, very young babies, particularly those born prematurely, and children with heart or lung conditions, can be seriously affected and it’s important that parents are aware of the actions to take.”
Parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe infection in at-risk children, including:
*a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever)
*a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).
The best way to prevent RSV is to wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser regularly, dispose of used tissues correctly, and to keep surfaces clean and sanitised.
Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but you should contact your GP or call NHS 111 if:
- You are worried about your child.
- Your child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last two or three feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
- Your child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.
- Your child seems very tired or irritable.
Dial 999 for an ambulance if:
- your baby is having difficulty breathing
- your baby’s tongue or lips are blue
- there are long pauses in your baby’s breathing
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