Caerphilly County Borough Council’s new car park ticket machines have been criticised for not being “flexible enough”.
The new ticket machines cost £300,000. A Welsh Government grant was used to cover £170,000 of the cost, while the council contributed the remaining £130,000.
But Plaid Cymru councillor James Fussell has criticised the machines for not having the option for tickets allowing two or three-hour free parking.
Currently, parking in all council-owned car parks in the borough is free, and will remain so until at least September 2022. The policy was first introduced in June 2020 following the initial coronavirus lockdown.
The council is considering limiting free parking to two or three-hours to avoid car parks in town centres being full all day.
Cllr Fussell, who represents the St Martins ward, said: “The problem was known to officers of the council and yet a £300,000 purchase order went ahead for new equipment that cannot offer simple free two or three-hour tickets.
“Other councils can do this, including our neighbours in Cardiff.”
A report presented to the council’s cabinet on Wednesday, September 1 said the machines will be adjusted to offer two or three-hour free parking, but it will cost £16,000 per machine and require a Traffic Regulation Order, which will take six months to carry out.
In the past year, the council has lost out on £660,000 in income due to free parking.
But Independent Group Leader, Cllr Kevin Etheridge, is calling on the council to abolish charges all together – calls which have been backed by the Plaid Cymru group, which has proposed introducing limited stay as an option for the Twyn car park in Caerphilly town centre.
Cllr Fussell said the Twyn car park is full by 9am due to shop owners and workers parking there, leaving little room for visitors and shoppers.
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This has been acknowledged by the cabinet, with the council agreeing to look at how best to operate both the Twyn car park and Blackwood High Street car park.
Cllr Fussell added: “The fear is that struggling businesses cannot survive if this car park [Twyn] is not able to be used for casual shopping, especially in the colder winter months.”
The council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Jamie Pritchard, has offered to meet with Cllr Fussell to discuss the Twyn car park issue.
Cllr Pritchard added that Plaid Cymru councillor Colin Elsbury, who represents the St Martin’s ward alongside Cllr Fussell, is part of the cross-party Task and Finish Group, which was set up in 2016 to review parking in the borough.
A council spokesperson said: “The machines are able to offer two to three-hour tickets, but this would also require a lengthy Traffic Regulation Order.”
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